Fri, 18 Jun 2021

Uyghurs in China, abroad targeted by hackers

28 May 2021, 21:19 GMT+10

Beijing [China], May 28 (ANI): Members of the Uyghur community in China and abroad are being targeted in surveillance efforts by "Chinese-speaking" hackers through the use of fake emails from the United Nations (UN) and a human rights group, according to cybersecurity researchers.

A joint collaboration between cybersecurity groups Check Point Research and Kaspersky's Global Research and Analysis Team concluded with 'low to medium confidence' that the effort was carried out by Chinese-speaking hackers, reported The Hill.

The hackers were targeting Uyghurs in both China and Pakistan using malicious emails designed to trick individuals into installing a back door into Microsoft Windows software to allow the hackers to collect information and further carry out attacks, said the researchers.

According to them, the emails were sent under the guise of the UN Human Rights Council or from a fake human rights organization known as the Turkic Culture and Heritage Foundation.

"We believe that these cyberattacks are motivated by espionage, with the endgame of the operation being the installation of a back door into the computers of high-profile targets in the Uyghur community," said Lotem Finkelsteen, the head of threat intelligence at Check Point, in a statement to The Hill.

"The attacks are designed to fingerprint infected devices, including all of its running programs. From what we can tell, these attacks are ongoing, and new infrastructure is being created for what looks like future attacks," Finkelsteen added.

The findings also said that the attacks, which target both members of the Uyghur community and the organisations supporting them, are likely still ongoing.

According to The Hill, Facebook announced in March that it had disrupted efforts of Chinese hacking groups to target and surveil members of the Uyghur community in China and other countries through installing malware on mobile devices.

China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang, with a handful of countries, the latest being Lithuania, terming the human rights abuses on the ethnic minorities as 'genocide'.

After years of denying the existence of the internment camps in Beijing, China in 2019 described the facilities as residential training centres that provide vocational training for Uyghurs, discourage radicalisation and help protect the country from terrorism.

However, several media reports and former detainees have said that those in the camps are detained against their will and subjected to political indoctrination, routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities.

Former detainees have also described being subjected to torture, rape, sterilization, and other abuses while in custody. (ANI)

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