NCC alerts Telcos, ISPs about cyberespionage targeted at African telecom companies

TECHDIGEST – The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has alerted the African continent of a politically motivated cyber attacks, which are largely targeted telecoms, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Africa.

The telecom regulator, in keeping with its commitment to continuously keep stakeholders in the country’s telecoms sector informed, educated and protected, said the Iranian hacking group known as Lyceum (also known as Hexane, Siamesekitten, or Spirlin) is orchestrating cyberespionage in the African telecoms space in a politically motivated attacks oriented in cyberespionage.

According to NCC, the information about this cyber attack is contained in the latest advisory issued by the Nigerian Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT), which rates the probability and damage level of the new malware as high.

The advanced persistent threat (APT) group has been linked to campaigns that hit Middle Eastern oil and gas companies in the past. Now, the group appears to have expanded its focus to the technology sector. In addition, the APT is responsible for a campaign against an unnamed African government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

By the attackers’ mode of operation, Lyceum’s initial onslaught vectors include credential stuffing and brute-force attacks. So, once a victim’s system is compromised, the attackers conduct surveillance on specific targets. In that mode, Lyceum will attempt to deploy two different kinds of malware: Shark and Milan (known together as James).

Both malware are backdoors. Shark, a 32-bit executable written in C# and .NET, generates a configuration file for domain name system (DNS) tunneling or Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) C2 communications; whereas Milan – a 32-bit Remote Access Trojan (RAT) retrieves data.

Both are able to communicate with the group’s command-and-control (C2) servers. The APT maintains a C2 server network that connects to the group’s backdoors, consisting of over 20 domains, including six that were previously not associated with the threat actors.

According to reports, individual accounts at companies of interest are usually targeted, and then once these accounts are breached, they are used as a springboard to launch spear-phishing attacks against high-profile executives in an organization. The report suggests that not only do these attackers seek out data on subscribers and connected third-party companies, but once compromised, threat actors or their sponsors can also use these industries to survive individuals of interest.

However, to guard against this kind of threats, the NCC wishes to re-echo ngCERT reports that multiple layers of security in addition to constant network monitoring is required by telecom companies and ISPs alike to stave off potential attacks.

 

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