A group of hackers that goes by the name CCP Unmasked, in reference to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), claimed they have breached into three Chinese social media monitoring companies and obtained internal files.
The group released some of the accessed documents on Twitter but later its account was banned by the social media authorities. However, the authenticity of those leaked documents is yet to be confirmed.
Hacked Chinese Companies
As per the hacking group, the files can expose the social media monitoring and disinformation campaigns that were conducted by three private companies—Hong Kong and Guangdong based 'Knowlesys,' Guangzhou's 'Yunrun Big Data Service' and Beijing based 'OneSight'—at the behest of the Chinese government.
As reported, the hackers reached out to the journalists via email and said, "We think the public deserves to know about the CCP's attempts to undermine democracy and freedom of expression."
Freedom House, a digital rights organization, earlier in a report on social media surveillance said that the clients of the Chinese company, Knowlesys, include the Chinese military and government bodies. The company has previously held demonstrations on how to keep a track of the messages, locations, behaviors, profiles, relationships, and more of targets and also how to monitor the opinion of the public for election.
As per Vice, one of the hacked files includes a presentation that was labeled as "confidential" by the Knowlesys. In this file, the Chinese company showcased a product called Intelligence Centre. In the classified presentation, the company wrote that it has been working closely with the intelligence agencies for eight years.
This presentation reportedly shows a system that is capable of monitoring all kinds of websites and social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook, and WeChat. The agenda behind such a monitoring system is to find out terrorists and anti-government groups.
As Facebook and Twitter both big-shot social media giants are banned in China, this presentation is most likely for the foreign government. Below images are proof that the Chinese company, Knowlesys had participated in the surveillance industry conference, ISS World in Dubai in March, and the Milpol conference that took place in Qatar.
The hackers from CCP Unmasked had sent a small batch of presentations and the documents belonging to these Chinese companies. While some of these documents were written in English, some were written in Mandarin.
When the hackers started to publish the files on their Twitter account on Thursday, August 20, the social media company suspended the account for posting hacked material, which is against the company policy. While explaining the reason behind hacking the companies CCP Unmasked hackers mentioned, "We think the CCP's desire to put out fake news and interfere with democracy needs to be challenged."