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Meta files lawsuit to uncover hackers targeting Facebook, WhatsApp

The company is seeking $500,000 from the unnamed threat actors that ran phishing scam on its platforms

Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has announced that it has taken legal action against hackers that used phishing attacks in an attempt to trick Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram users into sharing their login details.

The tech giant has filed a federal lawsuit in the state of California which aims to “seek records to uncover the identities” of the threat actors taking part in the phishing campaign, which involved the creation of more than 39,000 fake Meta-owned websites since 2019.

The fake websites prompted people to enter their usernames and passwords, allowing the hackers to access and take control of the accounts.

The hackers are also accused of using relay service Ngrok to redirect internet traffic from Meta’s infrastructure, as well as conceal their actions and identities.

In a statement, Meta’s director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation, Jessica Romero, announced that the lawsuit is “one more step” in the company’s “ongoing efforts to protect people’s safety and privacy, send a clear message to those trying to abuse our platform, and increase accountability of those who abuse technology”.

“We will also continue to collaborate with online hosting and service providers to identify and disrupt phishing attacks as they occur. We proactively block and report instances of abuse to the hosting and security community, domain name registrars, privacy/proxy services, and others. And Meta blocks and shares phishing URLs so other platforms can also block them,” she said.

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Meta stated that, since March 2021, “when the volume of these attacks increased”, the company managed to “suspend thousands of URLs to the phishing websites”. 

With the newly-filed lawsuit, it’s now seeking to recover “the greater of their actual damages” or $500,000 (£377,472.50).

The news comes weeks after Google launched legal action against a group of Russian hackers in what it claimed was the world’s first lawsuit against a blockchain-enabled botnet. The document only names two Russian nationals whose identities are known – Dmitry Starovikov and Alexander Filippov – but also includes 15 anonymous accomplices who are all believed to be based in Russia.

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