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The Internet Association accuses "Meta" of failing to handle business account attacks Israel today


The Israeli Internet Association reveals in a new report that many business accounts on WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram have experienced a hostile takeover in the last year.

From ransom attacks on hospitals, infrastructure facilities and academic institutions to attacks on small business websites - the world is suffering a constant increase in the scope of cyber attacks.

A new report by the Internet Association warns that the increase in attacks does not miss business accounts in the products of the technology giant "Meta": WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook.

The report was written based on hundreds of inquiries received on the Internet Association's Safe Internet Helpline and other sources.

Many users in Israel rely on meta platforms as the main arena for managing small businesses and communicating with their customers and business contacts.

The report describes a recurring phenomenon of taking over and blocking users' profiles on Facebook in order to take control of their business digital assets and credit information in the system. According to the report, despite the severe damage to the business owners, and the fact that many of them depend on it for their livelihood, "Meta" fails in handling the incidents. Lack of response And support from Meta produces, according to the report, a great distress of users.

Cyber ​​(illustration), photo: GettyImages

"The situation created by us following hundreds of inquiries and reports reflects the great distress of users, most of them business owners, who rely on Facebook and Instagram as a central platform for managing their businesses and are severely affected by these attacks," said Idan Ring, VP of Community and Society of the Israel Internet Association. 

harm them on political, national or other grounds"

Along with the harm to business owners, private citizens without a business Facebook page or ad account are also harmed, these, according to the authors of the report, are a minority among references.

According to the pusher "in such cases the goal is usually to disable their personal profiles in order to harm them on political, national or other grounds".

The authors of the report point the finger of blame not only at Meta Al but also at law enforcement authorities.

"Citizens and business owners who are exposed to such criminal acts and frauds should receive protection and assistance not only from the commercial platform they use, but also from the law enforcement authorities and the state, as should happen if someone were to break into their offices or physical store," said Ring, who called on Meta and the enforcement authorities " To study the findings of the review and its recommendations in order to help the public of business owners in Israel."

Pedophilic content or content that supports terrorism

According to the report, most of the inquiries that reached the helpline describe a script of takeover and harm with identical characteristics that were repeated:

In the first stage, the attackers gain access to private Facebook accounts of users and penetrate them with the aim of taking control of the account and causing it to be blocked.

The attackers' preferred target population is Facebook users who have or have previously had a paid ad account or an active Facebook business page.

After taking over the victim's private Facebook account, the attackers try to gain access to the ad account or the management powers on his business page without the page owner being aware of it, and add themselves or someone on their behalf as an additional manager (admin) in the ad account associated with the victim's credit card.

In the next step, the attackers publish pedophile content or terrorist-supporting content on the victim's personal profile page in order to get his personal profile blocked immediately.

Once the personal profile is blocked, they own exclusive management powers over the hijacked business page or ad account.

Starting at this stage, the hijacked ad account or business page is used to commit credit fraud - usually in order to finance campaigns and ads of entities outside of Israel.

Complete disruption of the ability to manage the business

The consequences of the hostile takeover of the victims are serious and cause significant damages, such as a complete disruption of the ability to manage the business and communicate with customers and suppliers.

According to the report, many times business owners suffer financial losses due to credit collection that is not returned to them and are forced to invest a lot of time and effort to cancel and restore their credit cards and their social pages and ad accounts.

In addition, the penetration and takeover of their digital assets and the disruption of the relationship and service to customers harms their business reputation, the service they provide to customers and the trust they place in them to continue operations.

Sometimes, the report notes, the damage is even more severe when some business owners are unable to restore their business pages and other digital assets at all.

In doing so, they lose marketing materials, customer information, correspondence and transaction documentation, and more.

Although users are given 30 days to appeal the decision to disable the account, often the appeal is not accepted and they receive a message that the decision on the deactivation by Meta is final.

And if that's not enough, about 70% of the victims report that after a few days the WhatsApp account they own is also blocked.

According to the report, "The only way to deal with the problem is to contact a human element within the company who can examine the case individually, which is very difficult to do today in the absence of active customer service on behalf of the company in Israel."

A call for the intervention of state authorities

The report states that appeals were made to the meta in the past, but to no avail.

According to the report, "despite many attempts by the victims and the helpline of the Internet Union to appeal to Meta representatives in the various channels about the blocking of the victims' profiles - the phenomenon still occurs on a large scale, without an adequate response from Meta. A representative of a public inquiry line working in cooperation with Meta reported Directly to the policy managers on Facebook-Instagram and WhatsApp (separate parties) about the phenomenon during the year 2022, but that too without an adequate response."

The authors of the report summarize Meta's responsiveness with these words - "The end result is the complete neglect of the victims, most of whom are not only users of the platforms, but also paying customers."

The National Cyber ​​Array // Photo: Oded Karni,

The report details a series of recommended actions that Meta must take in order to overcome the problem: Meta must learn the pattern of the attack in question in order to prevent it by technological means.

Meta should establish customer service for business account holders without them having to threaten legal action in order to receive care.

Another solution proposed by the authors of the report is providing information and reminders in Hebrew in the application and encouraging users to increase security measures, such as two-step verification, strengthening passwords and adding alternative administrators to accounts.

The authors of the report also demand the intervention of the state authorities, including the cyber system, and ask them to contact the platforms to make sure that they carry out information and awareness activities, as well as to promote a response also at the level of enforcement, investigation and policing, "in the same way as they would handle fraud or other economic criminal activities against them".

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Source: israelhayom

All tech articles on 2023-02-19

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