Google revealed to have taken down ten coordinated operations in Q2 2020 (between April and June 2020), the campaigns were traced back to China, Russia, Iran, and Tunisia.
The report is based on the investigations conducted by the Threat Analysis Group (TAG) and third-parties’ contributions (i.e. social media analysis firm Graphika, cyber-security firm FireEye, the Atlantic Council investigation unit).
The latest TAG Bulletin covers influence ops takedowns that have taken place in the second quarter of this year, between April and June 2020.
In April, as part of a campaign carried out by Iran-linked threat actors, Google closed 16 YouTube channels, 1 advertising account and 1 AdSense account. The accounts were linked to the Iranian state-sponsored International Union of Virtual Media (IUVM) network, which also shared content in Arabic related to the US’ response to COVID-19 and the relationship of the US with Saudi Arabia.
Google also terminated 15 YouTube channels and 3 blogs as part of a campaign carried out by Russia-linked threat actors, which posted content in English and Russian about the EU, Lithuania, Ukraine, and the US
The Threat Analysis Group terminated another campaign from Russia, the IT giant closed 7 YouTube channels used to share content in Russian, German, and Farsi about Russian and Syrian politics and the U.S. response to COVID-19.
The TAG team also dismantled another campaign conducted by China-linked attackers. The experts terminated 186 YouTube channels, but only a subset was used to post political content primarily in Chinese, criticizing the response of the US government to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another campaign blocked by Google leveraged 3 YouTube channels used by Iran-linked hackers to publish content in Bosnian and Arabic that was critical of the U.S. and the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), a militant organization fighting against the official Iranian government.
In May the TAG blocked 1,098 YouTube channels used by China-linked hackers to criticize the US’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Google also terminated 47 YouTube channels and 1 AdSense account linked to Russia and used to spread into about domestic Russian and international policy issues.
In June, Google terminated 1,312 YouTube channels used by China-linked threat actors for the same purposes of campaigns reported in April and May.
In the same month, Google terminated 17 YouTube channels linked to Russia 3 Google Play developers and 1 advertising account linked to Tunisian PR company Ureputation.
(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Google Threat Analysis Group)