Graphika Report Reveals Another Pakistan Co-ordinated Attack against India
The recently released Graphika report stated that several Pakistan-based accounts were spreading political narratives that supported its government and military and actively targeted India.
The fight between both nations appears to be everlasting for India also possesses the cyber capabilities to respond to Pakistani cyberwarfare. With the help of private actors and APT groups, India too has launched wide social media disinformation campaigns against Pakistan. Indian hackers and programmers are identified in cyberspace working with defence to Indian national interests.
The Graphika report titled – “Lights, Camera, Coordinated Action!” revealed that a network of fake media outlets, paid actors and journalists backed by Pakistan, violated Facebook’s policy and engaged in coordinated inauthentic behaviour.
Facebook claimed that it had already removed a network of Pakistani accounts and pages engaged in similar activities, back in May. These accounts were meant to target domestic as well as international audiences. Nearly 40 Facebook profiles, 25 pages, six groups and 28 Instagram accounts were made to fulfil the political agenda. Despite the hidden identities, Facebook managed to disclose that the accounts were linked to a Pakistan-based PR firm – AlphaPro.
The origins of some of the links were traced back to the accounts that were removed by Facebook in 2019. These belonged to the employees of the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) department. They regularly posted about the ongoing global pandemic, criticism of India, the Kashmir crisis, and the treatment of Muslims in the region. Graphika report also established multiple open-source links between AlphaPro and the ISPR with the help of Facebook.
AlphaPro, a digital marketing agency situated in Islamabad, Pakistan, touts itself as a “one-stop-shop” that has been providing “turn-key” social media services to a variety of business and government clients. Previously, the company operated as an event’s organiser specialising in weddings. The Facebook page for a company called Wedding Mubarak listed the same office as AlphaPro.
The Pakistani firm provides services including development and management of digital assets i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, according to the company’s website. Its Twitter was suspended in 2020 for suspicious activities.
Upon investigation, the Graphika report founded multiple connections between AlphaPro and accounts included in the takedown set. It stated that the fake media networks aimed at gaining praise for Pakistan and its armed forces while denigrating India. They majorly highlighted attacks by Hindu nationalists targeting religious minorities; support for Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan; and promotion of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) investment project.
The Facebook identified profiles extensively covered the Indian farmer’s protest, arguing that the government was leading the country towards fascism. The aim was to isolate the Indian capital on the international stage. India too has responded to Pakistan’s misinformation campaigns from time to time. The EU DisinfoLab research from 2020 revealed that India’s Srivastava Group launched a global disinformation campaign that promoted Indian political goals while condemning Pakistan.
According to the lab researchers, the Srivastava Group (SG), based in Delhi, was allegedly behind the pro-India propaganda network that targeted Pakistan using nearly 750 fake media outlets. Over time, it became a major private firm to combat the growing digital-age misinformation against India.
The cyberwarfare between India and Pakistan had created major implications for the region. Both the countries have tried to gain their strategic goals while attempting to influence the narrative against one other. The social media disinformation campaigns followed by hacking are consequently creating a threat to regional security.