EU wants monthly report from tech companies about Russian fake news

The European Commission wants monthly reports on disinformation from Facebook, Google and Twitter. It is part of an action plan to combat fake news that has been presented today.

The committee explicitly deals with disinformation campaigns from Russia. European Commissioner Andrus Ansip, who is responsible for the unification of the digital market, calls the country the “primary source”.

The committee wants the tech companies to share this information with a view to the elections to the European Parliament in May. The intention is for the social media companies to publish the reports from January to May.

In addition, there must be an alert system to warn national authorities if they are bombarded with fake news. This is also intended to monitor national elections in the EU in 2020.

Create awareness

The European Commission writes in the press release to also publish the first report, according to Politico This also applies to the reports that follow. The reports should describe how tech companies label political ads, how many bots and fake accounts have been identified and removed, and how the collaboration with fact checkers and researchers is progressing.

Brussels hopes to raise awareness among European voters of foreign parties and how they try to influence the elections.

Prior to the US interim elections, Facebook published several times about fake accounts that had been found and deleted. But that was on a voluntary basis and not monthly.

More money

The European Commission is investing more money in combating disinformation. The budget of the European External Action Service goes from € 1.9 million to € 5 million. This service includes, among other things, the EUvsDisinfo website, which keeps fake news lists. The site was under fire earlier this year because there were also Dutch media on those lists.

Madeleine de Cock Buning, chairman of the most important EU advisory group on fake news, advised on this not to make fake new lists in the EU. Has EUvsDisinfo promised that no Dutch media will appear on the fake news list anymore, the site will focus on Russian media and media in neighboring countries of Russia.

The NOS asked Facebook, Google and Twitter for comments, but the companies did not yet want to comment on content.

Fox-IT: Dutch companies are also victims of SamSam graft software

Dutch companies have also been hit by the SamSam mortgaging software in recent months. Probably dozens of companies, says security company Fox-IT.

A precise number can not be called the cybersecurity because it is unknown how many companies have paid ransom and how many companies have solved it themselves. Probably it is only a tip of the iceberg.

Bitcoins

SamSam works very sophisticated. It uses a configuration error within the IT of a company. If the server is directly connected to the internet and the password is weak, they are relatively easy to access.

Then the hackers dive deeper into the systems and silently search for more administration rights. “They get to know the company like that, look at the name and google it,” says Frank Groenewegen of Fox-IT. “They know what kind of people work there and determine on the basis of all that knowledge how much ransom they can demand, what is feasible.”

That varies from a few tens of thousands of euros to a few tons, according to reports from the ANP about the case. The ransom has to be paid in bitcoins.

The hackers use the commonly used RDP, the so-called remote desktop protocol, which allows you as a system administrator or employee from home in the systems of the organization.

Not in order

SamSam has been active worldwide for a year and a half and seems to hit schools, hospitals and universities. American researchers point to Iran. An American prosecutor has indicted two Iranians last week.

Known cases from the past are a hospital in Los Angeles and the municipality of Atlanta in the US. It is not that SamSam specifically focuses on public facilities, says Groenewegen. “In the Netherlands it is the other way around: most government organizations do not link the servers directly to the internet.The SamSam makers are looking for companies that are not in order.”