Global telcos under attack, state-sponsored groups in the limelight

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A bunch of global telecommunications companies have been breached, and their data stolen, according to fresh media reports. Even though we still don't know who the culprits are, fingers are already being pointed, and they're being pointed to the Chinese.

According to Cybereason (an US-Israeli cybersecurity firm), the group known as APT10 (also known as Stone Panda, among other names it uses) is behind the attack. APT10 is a known cyberwarfare group that many researchers believe is state-backed or state-sponsored.

It stole personal and corporate data from telecommunications companies in western Europe, allegedly.

“For this level of sophistication it’s not a criminal group. It is a government that has capabilities that can do this kind of attack,” said Lior Div, chief executive of Cybereason.

A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said he was not aware of the report, but added “we would never allow anyone to engage in such activities on Chinese soil or using Chinese infrastructure.”

The attack, which was apparently uncovered some nine months ago, compromised internal IT networks of its victims, allowing attackers customisation of the infrastructure.

They even managed to compromise the target’s entire active directory, giving themselves access to all login credentials in existence. Billing information, call records, these were all taken.

“They built a perfect espionage environment,” said Div, a former commander in Israel’s military intelligence unit 8200. “They could grab information as they please on the targets that they are interested in.”

Cybereason said: “This time as opposed to in the past we are sure enough to say that the attack originated in China. We managed to find not just one piece of software, we managed to find more than five different tools that this specific group used,” Div said.