A network of 265 fake websites that were promoting
anti-Pakistan news and sharing pro-India news were found operating in 65
countries. Some of the websites were built in a way meant to influence high-ranking
members of the European parliament.
According to a BBC
entire enterprise was linked to a single source, an Indian company named
Srivastava Group, but the investigators found no link with the Indian
government. The network was discovered by EU Disinfo Lab, a non-profit
organization from Brussels.
While it might not be a phishing scheme, per se, it
operated pretty much the same way. Fake websites were set up to offer
credibility to the entire scheme, sometimes using domain names very similar to
the original ones, or even resurrecting publications that went out of print
almost 100 years ago.
Whale phishing is a term that describes the targeting of
a senior executive by cybercriminals in an effort to compromise them. The
method used by fake websites is not all that dissimilar to phishing because
high-ranking officials in the EU were directly targeted. Making matters worse,
a few of them fell for it, wrote articles, and gave interviews.
Following the investigation by the EU Disinfo Lab, many
of the websites disappeared and or went inactive. The NGO identified a woman
named Madi Sharma as the heart of the disinformation campaign, which could only
be described as a business broker operating among EU officials. She’s also a
British member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), but the
EESC says that its members are free to do whatever they want.