Cybercriminals are using insiders to gain access to telecommunications networks and subscriber data, recruiting disaffected employees through underground channels or blackmailing staff using compromising information gathered from open sources – according to a Kaspersky Lab intelligence report into security threats facing the telecommunications industry.
Telecommunications providers are a top target for cyber-attack. They operate and manage the world’s networks, voice and data transmissions and store vast amounts of sensitive data. This makes them highly attractive to cybercriminals in search of financial gain, as well as nation-state sponsored actors launching targeted attacks, and even competitors.
To achieve their goals, cybercriminals often use insiders as part of their malicious ‘toolset’, to help them breach the perimeter of a telecommunications company and perpetrate their crimes.
New research by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International reveals that 28% of all cyber-attacks, and 38% of targeted attacks now involve malicious activity by insiders. The intelligence report examines popular ways of involving insiders in telecoms-related criminal schemes and gives examples of the things insiders are used for.
According to the Kaspersky Lab researchers, attackers engage or entrap telecoms employees in the following ways:
● Using publically available or previously-stolen data sources to find compromising information on employees of the company they want to hack. They then blackmail targeted individuals – forcing them to hand over their corporate credentials, provide information on internal systems or distribute spear-phishing attacks on their behalf.
● Recruiting willing insiders through underground message boards or through the services of “black recruiters”. These insiders are paid for their services and can also be asked to identify co-workers who could be engaged through blackmail.
The blackmailing approach has grown in popularity following online data breaches such as the Ashley Madison leak, as these provide attackers with material they can use to threaten or embarrass individuals.
In fact, data-leak related extortion has now become so widespread that the FBI issued a Public Service Announcement on 1 June warning consumers of the risk and its potential impact.