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According to US indictment, Facebook is used in Iranian cyber espionage operations



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A former US Air Force intelligence officer allegedly worked with Iranian hackers who used Facebook and emails to trick their former colleagues into downloading malware that would track their computer activities.

Monica Witt has been charged with her espionage The Iranian Ministry of Justice has provided information on the country's defense to the Iranian government. Witt, a US citizen, moved to Iran in 201

3 and is still at large.

An indictment was released Wednesday detailing how Witt and Iranian hackers used fake Facebook accounts to speak out against US intelligence after she returned to Iran. The world's largest social network has been pressured to do more to prevent false information, and continues to pull down fake accounts this year, including 783 pages groups and accounts tied to Iran.

Facebook said in a statement that the company "has nothing to share that goes beyond the Justice Department's indictment" when asked if the social network found the accounts and pulled down the accounts US officials American counterintelligence, according to court documents.

From December 2014 to May 2015, at least four Iranian citizens made fake Facebook accounts to attack Witt's former employees, according to the US. Mojtaba Masoumpour, Behzad Mesri, Hossein Parvar, and Mohamad Paryar have found malware that records a person's computer activity, accesses their webcam, and records their input.

Neither Witt nor the four men who worked for the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps could be contacted for their unknown stay.

The group then created a fake Facebook account called Bella Wood and sent a friend to a former Witt employee who was in Afghanistan at the time, according to the indictment. A separate e-mail, also sent from a fake account, contained links that allowed the men to take control of the US intelligence officer's computer.

Iranian hackers also used photos and information from another US counterintelligence officer to create a fake Facebook account for friendship with other agents. Some accepted the friend requests and received messages linking to files containing malware.

It is not clear from the indictment whether the agents clicked on the links or what information was obtained through the use of fake emails and Facebook accounts. The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An agent who was a friend of the fake account, however, added the hackers to a Facebook group filled with US government agents so they could gather more information according to the indictment. At some point, the hackers also created a fake e-mail requesting recipients to reset the password to their Facebook accounts.

The four men were charged with conspiracy, attempted computer intrusions, and increased identity theft.

First published at 16.20. PT

Update, 4:49 pm PT: Provides more background information

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