December 6, 2021

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Criminals use Black Week to hack your phone

Criminals use Black Week to hack your phone

– It’s a black week. Many are feeling nervous, and many have made various requests online here and there. It’s Christmas gift season. On that occasion, there is a greater chance of people getting a little nervous, lowering their guard and clicking on too many links, says NSM Director Roar Thun.

Don’t click: Telenor warns Norwegian mobile customers. Photo: TV 2

Affected municipality of Bergen

At the time of writing, the TV 2 reporter has received four text messages in the last 24 hours. Two of these have phone numbers associated with the municipality of Bergen.

– It looks serious and professional, says Director of Digitization Kjetil Århus in Bergen Municipality.

He asserts that the municipality has received inquiries from people who have contacted them because they have received similar text messages where Bergen municipality is listed as the sender.

Apparently some employees helped spread text messages away from their work phones. Want to specifically notify and warn employees now?

Yes, we think people should be reminded of the general rules of prudence. Whether we’re dealing with it online or via text, we haven’t decided, Aarhus tells TV 2.

breaks all records

During Wednesday, Telenor’s spam filter broke all records. The company has not experienced a similar attack. 385,000 text messages with a high probability of corruption were stopped in 24 hours, TV 2.

24/7 monitoring: At Telenor's security hub, the company deals with various forms of attacks targeting mobile and broadband networks around the clock.  Photo: Jean-Peter Lin

24/7 monitoring: At Telenor’s security hub, the company deals with various forms of attacks targeting mobile and broadband networks around the clock. Photo: Jean-Peter Lin

– The scary thing about this attack is that criminals have full access to your mobile phone, they can download everything you have on the phone, photos, sensitive business information, they can access your camera, microphone, etc. Thon says it is very dangerous.

Very dangerous: Roar Thon, division chief at the National Security Service (NSM), believes the potential for harm to individuals who download viruses to their phones is high.  Photo: NSM

Very dangerous: Roar Thon, division chief at the National Security Service (NSM), believes the potential for harm to individuals who download viruses to their phones is high. Photo: NSM

It soon spread

An unknown number of Norwegians have – despite all the warnings – downloaded viruses to their phone after receiving a text message. This, in turn, helped further spread the damage. Telia customers are also affected.

When a virus enters your phone, the virus uses your phone to send text messages, security expert Per Torsheim explains.

Foreign criminals: Norwegian telecom agents are the target.  Photo: Kåre Breivik / TV 2

Foreign criminals: Norwegian telecom agents are the target. Photo: Kåre Breivik / TV 2

You can send a large number of text messages from my phone and from my phone to others.

– Criminals use Norwegian phone clients who are spreading this around the most. Telecom operators are getting better at picking when it comes from abroad. Thorsheim explains that it is now being sent from Norwegian mobile customers.

Record breaking attack

Late Wednesday afternoon, the telecommunications company reported that it had blocked 385,000 text messages that were used in a widespread criminal attack on Norwegian telecommunications customers.

– As far as I know, we haven’t blocked many text messages in such a short time. It’s very loud and shows the scale of the attack, says Telenor’s CIO Magnus Line.

Attack: Telenor had never been hit like this before.  90,000 messages logged into the spam filter within two hours, says CIO Magnus Line to TV 2. Photo: Martin Fjellanger Telenor

Attack: Telenor had never been hit like this before. 90,000 messages logged into the spam filter within two hours, says CIO Magnus Line to TV 2. Photo: Martin Fjellanger Telenor

Telenor doesn’t know how many people are going through the blocking filter. Lane believes that launching the attack during the so-called “Black Week” is no accident.

“This could be clearly related to Black Week, and we may see a new onslaught before Christmas as Christmas shopping stress moments come into the picture,” says Lane.

NOT IPHONE: The malware application, named Flubot, has spread in record time among many Norwegian mobile phone users.  But malware can only be installed on Android phones.  Photo: Loic Vance

NOT IPHONE: The malware application, named Flubot, has spread in record time among many Norwegian mobile phone users. But malware can only be installed on Android phones. Photo: Loic Vance

It only attacks Android phones

The most important thing a consumer should know is that you can’t install malware on an Apple product, but that doesn’t stop you from receiving the file, explains Vidar Sandland, senior advisor at the Norwegian Center for Information Security (NorSIS).

Thus those who have iPhone and Apple products can relax, because it is simply impossible to install this malware.

For those with Android phones, about half the population, however, is possible to install this malware, says Sandland.

ANDROID ONLY: - Only those with Android phones, about half the population, can install this malware, says senior advisor Vidar Sandland at NorSIS.  Photo: BeckBack Photographers

ANDROID ONLY: – Only those with Android phones, about half the population, can install this malware, says senior advisor Vidar Sandland at NorSIS. Photo: BeckBack Photographers

Sandland explains that simply clicking on the link in the text message is not dangerous.

– This is what you do next, when you are asked to install an app and answer all your security questions. If you then choose to ignore all warnings, the malware can ensure that criminals have access to your phone and have complete control over it, Sandland says.

ancient technology

– We see that these attacks change in many ways to try to avoid and stop them. Size and scale tell something about criminals’ willingness to invest in this type of crime, says Chris Dale, as a security expert at River Security.

SMS and telephony is an old technology.

– That’s why it’s so easy to offend cybercriminals, Dale believes.

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