A group of hackers has broken into the systems of dozens of telecom companies worldwide. In doing so, they sampled large amounts of data from the past seven years. The cybercriminals are linked to the Chinese government by security company Cybereason.

The hack campaign is now called Operation Soft Cell. The campaign focused on detailed records of phone calls, writes Silicon Angle. It contains metadata about every phone call made on the network, including times, data and the location of the device. The same group also tried to steal all the data stored by their targets. These included usernames and passwords in the organisation, account data and e-mail servers.

The hackers are linked to the Chinese government. This is because the tools they used in the attacks are associated with the APT10 group. APT10 is a hacker group that works on behalf of the Tianjin State Security Bureau of the Chinese Ministry of State Security. Just last December, the US Department of Justice sued members of this group. The group had already been accused of hacking into IT service providers, hoping to steal intellectual property.

Spying

Cybereason’s team claims that in the past nine months it has discovered a campaign that has hacked into the Internet IT network of some of the companies affected. This allowed attackers to adapt the infrastructure and steal large amounts of data.

The researchers state that the attackers “mainly tried to steal CDR data (telephone logs, locations of telephone towers, etc.) that belonged to specific individuals from different countries”. Based on that, they argue that the hackers were used for espionage. “This type of targeted cyber-espionage is usually the work of actors deployed by the government.”

Cybereason did not disclose the exact telecom companies that were affected by the attacks. It does say, however, that it has informed more than 25 different telecom companies, and that these are the largest in the world.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.