China is reportedly behind huge hack of global cell networks

China is reportedly behind huge hack of global cell networks
Security research firm Cybereason reports today (via TechCrunch) that over the last seven years, hackers have been able to break into more than 10 cellular networks worldwide to gather information on calls made by at least 20 targeted individuals. The data obtained from this operation included the dates that calls were made, the times they were connected, the locations of the callers and more. The attack, dubbed Operation Soft Cell, has been active since 2012 and was spotted by Cybereason earlier this year.

While the goal of the hackers was to obtain call detail records (CDR), other information obtained from this operation included usernames and passwords. According to the report, "the attackers worked in waves-abandoning one thread of attack when it was detected and stopped, only to return months later with new tools and techniques." Cybereason says that it is very certain that this operation is a state-sponsored attack and is affiliated with China. The methods and tools used lead the security researcher to name APT10 as the so-called threat actor. This group reportedly works with Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS).

So why would the MSS go to all the trouble of hacking into 10 global cell networks? As Cybereason points out, when a nation runs an operation like this, it is not about the money. It is often done to steal intellectual property or obtain information about some of the carriers' subscribers. The data that was stolen allowed the hackers to get call records that provided the destination, and duration of a call, information on the device used to make the call, the version number of the phone and its vendor, and the physical location where the call was made. With that data, the MSS (assuming that they were behind this) was able to learn who the individuals they were targeting had been talking to, the devices they were using to make such calls and where these people were traveling to. The security research company says that this is the type of information used to gather dirt on politicians and to track law enforcement.

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84 Comments

1. sgodsell

Posts: 7451; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

And Huawei CEO said he would sign any document stating that his company would not be doing any spying. I guess Huawei isn't lying. They just turn it over to the Chinese government instead. That or the document he would sign means jack $hit.

2. Subie

Posts: 2392; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

Honest question: What does Huawei have to do with this article? Otherwise, it's like reading an article about Donald Trump and the USA military. Then coming to the comment section only to read someone's complaints about Apple being shady...

4. sgodsell

Posts: 7451; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Umm, Huawei China, Huawei ties to Chinese government, Chinese hackers from China, lots of carrier network equipment from China. Are you looking, and seeing any of this? Only an idiot would say that the Chinese government has nothing to do with this.

7. Subie

Posts: 2392; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

@sgodsell, No one is saying the Chinese government is not responsible for these hacks. in fact the article above is stating just that. But what I will say is that Huawei is not even mentioned in this article. No where in the article does it say that these carrier hacks happened due to Huawei or Chinese networking gear being used by America or others. So I'll use my above fictional simile regarding Trump, military, and Apple. You're reply to me was just as logical as saying: "Well, Trump uses an iPhone so that's how Apple is connected and or responsible for his bad policies and military decisions"...

24. AbhiD

Posts: 850; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

Huawei is funded and run by a guy who is ex Military and ex Communist Party of China. Huawei receives funding from Chinese government. Now do you see that in case of US, Trump, Apple and Google? Too much to grasp Huawei fanboy?

30. TheOracle1

Posts: 2340; Member since: May 04, 2015

This contrived paranoia and hypocrisy about China just exploits the ignorance of my fellow Americans. Every government hacks and spies with the US leading the pack. But looking at the bigger geopolitical picture, I can't remember the last time China bombed or invaded any country. I also can't remember them overthrowing a government or assassinating foreign leaders. Can the US say that?

36. Subie

Posts: 2392; Member since: Aug 01, 2015

@AbhiD, None of what you mentioned is in this article nor does that implicate them in what this story is about. Everything you mentioned is food for another article. IMO you and some others here are just reaching for an excuse to rag on Huawei... If there was even a whiff of Huawei being involved in this case Alan F and others would been all over it. PS. I don't use Huawei devices.

31. AlienKiss

Posts: 203; Member since: May 21, 2019

AbhiD gave you the answer, but you seem to ignore it. Either you're in denial, either you're too angry for paying so much for one of their phones... You got your answer, READ IT! (AND REMEMBER IT)

52. jacky899

Posts: 431; Member since: May 16, 2017

So just because a US firm says China is behind the hacks, it is automatically true? Look at the many times in the past where the US "experts" blamed Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, etc. which turned out to be completely false. Best example is how the US experts constantly sited evidence of Huawei having government back doors for spying purposes, which to date has been proven fake one after another. In fact, Snowden revealed after all those years that the only back door installed in Huawei equipment was by the NSA. The US used this backdoor to monitor and conduct offensive cyber operations on any country and anyone using Huawei equipment. Go look up Operation "Shot Giant".

55. AlienKiss

Posts: 203; Member since: May 21, 2019

I highly doubt that NSA hackers are constantly attacking hospitals for ransomware. But the chinese hackers are doing it on a daily basis in my country. Thousands and thousands of people don't have access to medical care because hackers encrypted the hospital's database and ask for money in return. And we're not talking about 1 hospital, we're talking about tens of them. And newsflash: IT forensics proved the attacks are coming from China. It is quite impossible to be a hacker in china if you don't work for them (we all know how their internet is super surveillanced). So either you're a chinese payed troll, either you're a sore looser (for paying so much on a useless smartphone), either you are very naive and believe other trolls from the internet. How old are you? 11?

39. eausa

Posts: 86; Member since: Feb 28, 2019

Spywei is doing no one a favor. They work for the commie government. Have you been living under a rock... These commies have 10,000+ government hackers hacking the world daily. F them.

53. mootu

Posts: 1530; Member since: Mar 16, 2017

The NSA employs 55,000 people, the vast majority of them are analysts (hackers). Looks like China needs to up thier game to match the vast US spying machine.

26. hamaidx

Posts: 99; Member since: Apr 28, 2015

oh so you're that dumb ass that can believe that United Sanctions of America isn't doing anything of this sorts... Look at the world.. all in ruins just cause of it. Blaming Huawei for anything & everything is just a game nowadays... effffuuuuu !!

3. Alcyone

Posts: 488; Member since: May 10, 2018

And which first world country isn't "spying"? Kettle calling the pot black.

40. eausa

Posts: 86; Member since: Feb 28, 2019

So many chinese people coming to defend spywei. It's a known fact china hacks the world daily. This is why with so much population it's a third world for the most part. They love to cut corners and steal ip. And they're loud.

5. Mike88

Posts: 437; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

Trump, China, India, KSA, Russia and Israel are running a mission together and pretending to fight... Other side countries are also helping them run this anti human religion based mission

6. Venom

Posts: 3729; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

And here comes the Huawei apologists and Huawei Defense Force. Huawei has ties with the Chinese government and here we have Chinese hacking multiple cellular networks.

8. cmdacos

Posts: 4265; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Still nothing to do with Hauwei

15. Venom

Posts: 3729; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

Still denying.

23. meanestgenius

Posts: 22276; Member since: May 28, 2014

Yeah Venom, you pretty much are still denying.

42. Venom

Posts: 3729; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

You mean like you do with the Nokia Pureview?

46. meanestgenius

Posts: 22276; Member since: May 28, 2014

You mean like you do with Pixel smartphones?

56. Venom

Posts: 3729; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

You mean like you do with your other accounts that you are using to give yourself a thumbs up with?

64. meanestgenius

Posts: 22276; Member since: May 28, 2014

You mean like you do with the one account you have still have going besides this one because you have 9 others that are banned?

77. Venom

Posts: 3729; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

I only have one account and only one account. I think you are projecting once again.

79. meanestgenius

Posts: 22276; Member since: May 28, 2014

You only have one account that you comment from, one that you thumb yourself up with, and the other nine are banned. Fixed it for you.

51. BuffaloSouce unregistered

Yeah because Hauwei is just going to blatantly admit to hacking...

57. Venom

Posts: 3729; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

They'll just deny it as usual.

65. meanestgenius

Posts: 22276; Member since: May 28, 2014

Much like you deny being mxyzptlk.

76. Venom

Posts: 3729; Member since: Dec 14, 2017

Much like you deny being docdevices.

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