Facebook bans Delhi-based IT firm BellTroX for hacking accounts of Government Officials and Journalists
Facebook has announced that it has removed seven “entities” for engaging in hacking activities on Facebook which also includes India’s New Delhi-based company BellTroX InfoTech Services. The company is located at Netaji Subhash Place in East Delhi’s Shakarpur area.
The firm used to send malicious links to hack users across the world. Facebook removed about 400 Facebook accounts linked to BellTroX. Those accounts were inactive for years. BellTroX’s activities were exposed last year when it targeted senior government officials and journalists. In 2020, Citizen Lab, a lab-based at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy exposed BellTrox hack-for-hire services across the globe.
Meta on BellTroX
Now, Facebook parent company Meta said BellTroX is based in India and sells ‘hack for hire’ services. It operated fake accounts to impersonate a politician and pose as journalists to gain access to users’ phones including their personal email addresses. They used to trick their targets into downloading malware.
Meta said that the firm’s activity on Facebook was limited and sporadic between 2013 and 2019, after which it stopped. However, the firm started this activity again in 2021 with a small number of accounts impersonating journalists to send phishing links to their targets. Meta report said the targets were lawyers, doctors, human rights activists, and members of the clergy in countries including Australia, Angola, Saudi Arabia, and Iceland.
Sumit Gupta owned the BellTroX company. He was also held in 2015 for his role in a similar hack-for-hire service scheme in California. He targeted government officials in Europe and well-known investors in the United States.
After an investigation by researchers at Citizen Lab, Facebook decided to ban seven surveillance groups. Meta report said that around 50,000 Facebook users were targets of spying from different countries. Facebook has earlier made attempts to combat cyber spying. Spyware is a growing area of concern for tech giants like Facebook, Apple, Google, and Microsoft.