Hackers have stolen conversation records from over 10 cell providers worldwide as part of a "massive" espionage attempt against at least 20 people, TechCrunch reports. The attack has been called "Operation Softcell" by Cybereason, the security research firm that discovered it. It is sophisticated enough that the firm believes that it is a "very high probability", it is state-supported.
The goal of the attacks is "call entry record", which contains detailed metadata of all calls from a person's phone, including times, dates, and the cell-based location of the device. The content of conversations is not kept in these records, but the metadata alone is hugely valuable. If a carrier does not realize that the network has been infiltrated, the hackers could have access to this data in real time, and individuals would not have the opportunity to know that their data has been compromised.
Although the attackers have penetrated deep enough to each service provider, "they could shut down the network tomorrow," said Cyprus security researcher, Amit Serper their CNET their The focus seems to be espionage, rather than disturbance. The hackers seem to be targeting high-profile government and military targets whose movements and communication will be severely damaged by the hack.
The attacks were first discovered a year ago, but go back with as many as seven years. The researchers say the attacks are ongoing and that hackers' servants are still in operation.
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The sophistication of the attacks means that Cybereason believes the group is a nation-state supported, and the techniques used correspond to the APT10, a notorious Chinese hacking group charged with stealing data from NASA, IBM, and other US technology companies last year. But since this group's tools and methods are now publicly available, the researchers say that there is no definitive evidence that the group is behind the attack.
Although no US vendors are believed to have been affected by the hack, it discovered what is happening Being a Chinese state-sponsored hacking attempt is likely to escalate tensions between the United States and China. The Trump administration is concerned that China is willing and able to conduct cyber war against its enemies, citing cyber security concerns when placing Huawei on the list of devices, over fear of the company being able to use the networking equipment to infect malware into US networks . 19659009]