New York Times Spoofed to Hide Russian Disinformation Campaign

"Operation Doppelganger" has convincingly masqueraded as multiple news sites with elaborate fake stories containing real bylines of journalists, blasting them out on social media platforms.

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

August 30, 2023

1 Min Read
A newspaper that reads "The Daily Times" with a headline that says "Fake News"
Source: Mega Pixel via Shutterstock

A Russian disinformation campaign has been found spreading fake articles posing as legitimate stories from major media outlets, such as The Washington Post and Fox News, in order to undermine the Western support for Ukraine amid the Russian-Ukraine War.

This is according to Meta's latest threat report, which asserts that there are two companies behind this disinformation operation — Structura National Technology and Social Design Agency — that formerly targeted other countries, including Germany and France. Both companies previously have been sanctioned by the European Union after being caught by Meta.

Doppelganger, the name for the operation, has spoofed the domains for these notable news sites and spammed out the linked stories on social media platforms, some of the stories being particularly elaborate. The operation also uses the bylines of real journalists working for these media organizations, though none have provided any comments on the impersonations.

According to Meta, the operation is a good example "of how bad actors use malicious domains to insulate themselves from enforcement." Though the multinational technology company will continue to disrupt the large volume of activity regarding these campaigns, it has also provided policy recommendations to assist with domain name abuse.

Meta calls for registrars and registries to take steps in addressing domain registration abuse as many brands cannot pursue the effort of initiating a domain name dispute administrative procedure due to the high expense in addition to the legal feed that will ensue. 

"This means that imposters continue to operate online, knowing that the costs of taking abusive domains down is prohibitively high for many organizations — including news outlets, civil society organizations, or governments," Meta warned.

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Dark Reading Staff

Dark Reading

Dark Reading is a leading cybersecurity media site.

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