The company specializing in the investigation of cybercrime Group-IB reported that attackers attempted to hack correspondence of Telegram messenger, and Russian entrepreneurs became the target of cyberattacks.
As the experts explained, at the end of 2019 several Russian entrepreneurs turned to them for help, who faced the problem of unauthorized access by unknown persons to their correspondence in the Telegram messenger.
The incidents occurred on iOS and Android, regardless of the carrier used. Group-IB believes that the attackers were able to view and copy activation codes from SMS messages that Telegram sends when activated on a new device.
Technically, the cyber attack could have been carried out using a vulnerability in the SS7 Protocol. However, attacks on SS7 are rare.
“It is much more difficult to implement such an attack, it requires certain qualifications in the field of data transmission networks and their protocols,” explained Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus expert Viktor Chebyshev.
“The attack began when a message was sent to the Telegram messenger from the Telegram service channel (this is the official messenger channel with a blue verification tick) with a confirmation code that the user did not request. After that, an SMS with an activation code was sent to the victim’s smartphone, and almost immediately a notification came to the Telegram service channel that the account was logged in from a new device,” reported Group-IB.
It is known that other people’s accounts were hacked through the mobile Internet, the IP address of the attackers was most often determined in the city of Samara.
It is assumed that the attackers used disposable SIM cards. They deliberately sent SMS with the code, intercepted it and authorized in Telegram. They could buy access to tools for hacking in the Darknet from 100 thousand rubles ($1,565).
The company drew attention to the fact that in all cases, SMS messages were the only authorization factor on devices affected by hacking attempts. Accordingly, such an attack can only be successful if the “Cloud Password” or “Two-step verification” options are not activated in the Telegram settings on the smartphone.
According to anti-virus expert Viktor Chebyshev, Telegram is consistently included in the list of applications targeted by cybercriminals in various spy campaigns. Such an attack can allow attackers to gain access to the correspondence of specific people.