Security Experts:

Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



Russia-Linked ‘Ghostwriter’ Disinformation Campaign Tied to Cyberspy Group

A widespread disinformation campaign dubbed Ghostwriter is believed to be the work of a state-sponsored cyber-espionage group, cybersecurity firm FireEye reported on Wednesday.

A widespread disinformation campaign dubbed Ghostwriter is believed to be the work of a state-sponsored cyber-espionage group, cybersecurity firm FireEye reported on Wednesday.

Initially detailed in July 2020 but ongoing for years, the campaign aligns with Russian interests and was initially observed targeting audiences in Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland with NATO-related themes.

Since FireEye’s initial report on Ghostwriter, the activity has expanded with new narratives, and the attackers started leveraging compromised Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts of Polish officials to disseminate content aimed at creating domestic political disruption in the country.

Between October 2020 and January 2021, FireEye’s researchers identified five new Ghostwriter operations conducted in both Polish and English, but which were not aligned with previous activity that relied on compromised websites, spoofed emails, fake personas, and NATO-themed content.

One Ghostwriter operation that did fall in line with previously observed activity promoted for several days in October 2020 content suggesting that NATO was getting its military ready for a war with Russia, and that the battle would take place in Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania. The narrative was promoted via a fabricated article published on several websites, but compromised social media accounts of Polish officials were also used to disseminate the story.

“We assess with high confidence that UNC1151, a suspected state-sponsored cyber espionage group, conducts at least some components of Ghostwriter influence activity; current intelligence gaps, including gaps pertaining to website compromises and the operation of false personas, do not allow us to conclusively attribute all aspects of the Ghostwriter campaign to UNC1151 at this time,” FireEye says.

The group tracked by FireEye as UNC1151, which has not been linked to any known threat actor, has been running operations aimed at credential harvesting and malware delivery through spear phishing attacks. The credentials stealing attacks targeted government, military, and media organizations in Poland, Ukraine, and Baltic countries, but the group was also observed attempting to compromise the accounts of other entities of interest, including journalists and activists.

Using a wide infrastructure that includes domains mimicking web services, as well as subdomains that spoof resources of legitimate organizations, the group is believed to have targeted thousands since 2017, including at least one Ukrainian journalist, one Belarussian blogger, and multiple German individuals. Furthermore, the adversary employed phishing for the distribution of malware such as HALFSHELL.

Related: Twitter Shuts Down Four Networks of State-Sponsored Disinformation Accounts

Related: Facebook Closes Disinformation Accounts Linked to French Military

Related: US Officials: Russia Behind Spread of Virus Disinformation

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

Expert Insights

Related Content


Zendesk is informing customers about a data breach that started with an SMS phishing campaign targeting the company’s employees.


The release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in late 2022 has demonstrated the potential of AI for both good and bad.


Websites of German airports, administration bodies and banks were hit by DDoS attacks attributed to Russian hacker group Killnet


The FBI dismantled the network of the prolific Hive ransomware gang and seized infrastructure in Los Angeles that was used for the operation.

Malware & Threats

Microsoft plans to improve the protection of Office users by blocking XLL add-ins from the internet.


A new study by McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) named a staggering figure as the true annual cost of...


A recently disclosed vBulletin vulnerability, which had a zero-day status for roughly two days last week, was exploited in a hacker attack targeting the...


Iranian APT Moses Staff is leaking data stolen from Saudi Arabia government ministries under the recently created Abraham's Ax persona