NCC Raises Alarm On Iranian Hackers

NCC Raises Alarm On Iranian Hackers
NCC Raises Alarm On Iranian Hackers

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has notified the public of the existence of another hacking group orchestrating cyber-espionage on the African telecoms space.

Base on the Report by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), yesterday,the group was renowned for infiltrating the networks of telecoms companies and ISPs. Between July and October, this year, Lyceum was implicated in attacks against ISPs and telecoms organisations in Israel, Morocco, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

An Iranian syndicate, Lyceum, also known as Hexane, Siamesekitten or Spirlin, has been reported to be targeting telecoms operators, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFAs) in Africa with upgraded malware in a recent politically motivated attacks on cyber-espionage.

Information on this cyber-attack is contained in the latest advisory issued by the Nigerian Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT). It rated 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 body appears to have expanded its focus to the technology sector.

Besides, the APT is responsible for a campaign against an unnamed African government’s MFA.

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 would attempt to deploy two different kinds of malware: Shark and Milan (known together as James).

Both malware is backdoored. Shark, a 32-bit executable written in C# and .NET, generates a configuration file for domain name system (DNS) tunnelling 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.

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Report has it that 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 organisation. The report suggested 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 survey targets.

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

Specifically, telecoms consumers and the general public are advised to ensure the consistent use of firewalls (software, hardware and cloud firewalls); enable a Web Application Firewall to help detect and prevent attacks coming from web applications by inspecting HTTP traffic; iInstall up-to-date antivirus programmes to help detect and prevent a wide range of malware, trojans, and viruses, which APT hackers will use to exploit your system; implement the use of Intrusion Prevention Systems that monitors your network.

NCC advised telecoms subscribers to create a secure sandboxing environment that allows you to open and run untrusted programs or codes without risking harm to your operating system; ensure the use of the virtual private network (VPN) to prevent an easy opportunity for APT hackers to gain initial access to your company’s network, and enable spam and malware protection for your email applications, and educate your employees on how to identify potentially malicious emails.