Sunday, February 25, 2024

U.S. Agencies Warn About Chinese Hackers Targeting Telecoms and Network Service Providers

U.S. cybersecurity and intelligence agencies have warned about China-based state-sponsored cyber actors leveraging network vulnerabilities to exploit public and private sector organizations since at least 2020.

The widespread intrusion campaigns aim to exploit publicly identified security flaws in network devices such as Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) routers and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices with the goal of gaining deeper access to victim networks.

In addition, the actors used these compromised devices as route command-and-control (C2) traffic to break into other targets at scale, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said in a joint advisory.

The perpetrators, besides shifting their tactics in response to public disclosures, are known to employ a mix of open-source and custom tools for reconnaissance and vulnerability scanning as well as to obscure and blend their activity.

The attacks themselves are facilitated by accessing compromised servers, which the agencies called hop points, from China-based IP addresses, using them to host C2 domains, email accounts, and communicate with the target networks.

“Cyber actors use these hop points as an obfuscation technique when interacting with victim networks,” the agencies noted, detailing the adversary’s pattern of weaponizing flaws in telecommunications organizations and network service providers.

Upon gaining a foothold into the network via an unpatched internet-facing asset, the actors have been observed obtaining credentials for user and administrative accounts, followed by running router commands to “surreptitiously route, capture, and exfiltrate traffic out of the network to actor-controlled infrastructure.”

Last but not least, the attackers also modified or removed local log files to erase evidence of their activity to further conceal their presence and evade detection.

Recommended:  CISA Tells Organizations to Patch Linux Kernel Vulnerability Exploited by Malware

The agencies did not single out a specific threat actor, but noted that the findings reflect Chinese state-sponsored groups’ history of aggressively striking critical infrastructure to steal sensitive data, emerging key technologies, intellectual property, and personally identifiable information.

The disclosure also arrives less than a month after the cybersecurity authorities revealed the most routinely exploited initial access vectors to breach targets, some of which include misconfigured servers, weak password controls, unpatched software, and failure to block phishing attempts.

“Entities can mitigate the vulnerabilities listed in this advisory by applying the available patches to their systems, replacing end-of-life infrastructure, and implementing a centralized patch management program,” the agencies said.

Suggest an edit to this article

Go to Cybersecurity Knowledge Base

Got to the Latest Cybersecurity News

Go to Cybersecurity Academy

Go to Homepage

Stay informed of the latest Cybersecurity trends, threats and developments. Sign up for our Weekly Cybersecurity Newsletter Today.

Remember, CyberSecurity Starts With You!

  • Globally, 30,000 websites are hacked daily.
  • 64% of companies worldwide have experienced at least one form of a cyber attack.
  • There were 20M breached records in March 2021.
  • In 2020, ransomware cases grew by 150%.
  • Email is responsible for around 94% of all malware.
  • Every 39 seconds, there is a new attack somewhere on the web.
  • An average of around 24,000 malicious mobile apps are blocked daily on the internet.
Bookmark
ClosePlease login
Share the word, let's increase Cybersecurity Awareness as we know it
- Sponsored -

Sponsored Offer

Unleash the Power of the Cloud: Grab $200 Credit for 60 Days on DigitalOcean!

Digital ocean free 200

Discover more infosec

User Avatar
Steven Black (n0tst3)
Hello! I'm Steve, an independent security researcher, and analyst from Scotland, UK. I've had an avid interest in Computers, Technology and Security since my early teens. 20 years on, and, it's a whole lot more complicated... I've assisted Governments, Individuals and Organizations throughout the world. Including; US DOJ, NHS UK, GOV UK. I'll often reblog infosec-related articles that I find interesting. On the RiSec website, You'll also find a variety of write-ups, tutorials and much more!

more infosec reads

Subscribe for weekly updates

explore

more

security