At a glance.
- Update on Ghostwriter.
- Jerusalem Day alert.
- Zoom prankers and deepfake goofs.
- Secrecy as friction.
- Inadvertent tweets.
Ghostwriter, and signs of a broader campaign.
FireEye’s Mandiant unit this morning updated its research into Ghostwriter, an influence-operator that came to attention last year as it sought to affect public opinion in Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Its messaging then was anti-NATO. The campaigns of 2020 relied upon artlessly crude forgeries and implausible rumor-mongering, but of course disinformation doesn’t need to be art, as long as it can get the right amplification, which Ghostwriter worked to accomplish.
It was easy for officials to quickly debunk such hogwash as the claim that Canadian soldiers were spreading COVID-19, or that an internal memo circulating in the Polish Ministry of Defense called for resistance against an American “army of occupation” (forged memo helpfully provided, hijacked social media accounts used to lend plausibility to a very implausible narrative). CyberScoop offered a useful account of these efforts at the end of last July. But of course lies can have a bit of a run if they’re provided with a headstart.
In any case, Ghostwriter has now expanded its thematic content to include disruption of domestic Polish politics and also (according to Tagesschau) credential theft attacks on German political figures. FireEye believes the threat actor it tracks as UNC1151 operates some portions of Ghostwriter. The firm characterizes UNC1151 as “a suspected state-sponsored cyber espionage actor that engages in credential harvesting and malware campaigns.”
Taggeschau calls the attackers “chaos troops,” which is apt enough for an operation that aims at disruption. At least seven members of Germany’s Bundestag have received phishing emails, as have some thirty members of the Länder assemblies, that is, the state-level legislatures. German authorities are taking activity seriously. The Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (the BfV, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution) und the Bundesamt für die Sicherheit in der Informationstechnik (the BSI, the Federal Officer for Information Security) are investigating, and have…