Mobile

4/10/2018
02:10 PM
50%
50%

HTTP Injector Steals Mobile Internet Access

Users aren't shy about sharing the technique and payload in a new attack.

A new attack in the wild leans not on email nor ransom, but on YouTube, Telegram, and HTTP headers intended to confuse an ISP.

Researchers at Flashpoint found that hackers have developed HTTP injectors that gain them free Internet access on mobile phone networks — and that they're trading these injectors like cents-off coupons at a neighborhood swap meet.

The most striking aspects of the attacks, which Flashpoint tracked on mobile networks in South America, the method of transmittal and ubiquity, not sophistication. 

Liv Rowley, an intelligence analyst at Flashpoint, says that Spanish and Portuguese chatter on Telegram first alerted her that something unusual was going on. "I was seeing all these people exchanging these HTTP inductor files, saying that you can get free Internet with them," she says.

In the attacks, customers with pre-paid SIMs employ the HTTP injectors to confuse the captive portals carriers use to verify the balance on the SIM before allowing access to the network. With the portal confused, the user gets onto the Internet even when the balance on the SIM has dropped to zero. The current attack primarily targets carriers in Brazil and Colombia, though Flashpoint found evidence of the same mechanisms being used elsewhere.

"You can very easily find YouTube videos all sorts of languages from all different countries where people explain how these files are used, and they often will include a download link to one of these injector files as well," Rowley says.

The openness of the information suggests a couple of factors to Rowley. First, she says, there's not a huge risk for the users in getting caught. "A hallmark of Latin American cybercrime right now is that there's not a lot of cybercrime legislation," Rowley says, pointing out that individuals can often commit cybercrime and there's no legal infrastructure in place to actually penalize them.

Next, the cybercriminals Flashpoint believes are behind the injectors gain access to the compromised infrastructure. Rowley says that it's in their best interest to have a lot of other people using these techniques to create a bigger criminal "bait ball" in which the true criminals can get lost.

The creation and distribution of these HTTP injectors makes them unique, in Rowley's view. "It's an interesting ecosystem of people who are compromising infrastructure trickling down to people who are just getting something that they're essentially being handed," she says. The flow of the malware from technologically sophisticated creators to technologically unsophisticated willing users is unusual, and dangerous.

While this exploit certainly has a significant financial impact on the mobile carriers, Rowley sees the potential for greater harm in the future. The originating criminals are "exploiting other people who aren't going to look critically at the files that they're downloading or the apps that they're downloading," she says. "The potential is always going to be there for them to be exploiting somebody downstream."

And the next payload, which could include anything from recruitment into a botnet to a cryptojacker, may have fewer benefits to the user and many more dangers for the Internet at large, according to Flashpoint.

Related Content:

Interop ITX 2018

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop ITX. Learn from the industry’s most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the security track here. Register with Promo Code DR200 and save $200.

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Microsoft President: Governments Must Cooperate on Cybersecurity
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  11/8/2018
To Click or Not to Click: The Answer Is Easy
Kowsik Guruswamy, Chief Technology Officer at Menlo Security,  11/14/2018
Veterans Find New Roles in Enterprise Cybersecurity
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  11/12/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Online Malware and Threats: A Profile of Today's Security Posture
Online Malware and Threats: A Profile of Today's Security Posture
This report offers insight on how security professionals plan to invest in cybersecurity, and how they are prioritizing their resources. Find out what your peers have planned today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-19279
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-14
PRIMX ZoneCentral before 6.1.2236 on Windows sometimes leaks the plaintext of NTFS files. On non-SSD devices, this is limited to a 5-second window and file sizes less than 600 bytes. The effect on SSD devices may be greater.
CVE-2018-19280
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-14
Centreon 3.4.x has XSS via the resource name or macro expression of a poller macro.
CVE-2018-19281
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-14
Centreon 3.4.x allows SNMP trap SQL Injection.
CVE-2018-17960
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-14
CKEditor 4.x before 4.11.0 allows user-assisted XSS involving a source-mode paste.
CVE-2018-19278
PUBLISHED: 2018-11-14
Buffer overflow in DNS SRV and NAPTR lookups in Digium Asterisk 15.x before 15.6.2 and 16.x before 16.0.1 allows remote attackers to crash Asterisk via a specially crafted DNS SRV or NAPTR response, because a buffer size is supposed to match an expanded length but actually matches a compressed lengt...