Iranian Government Hackers Spy On Dissidents

Many countries spy on their populations via mobilr apps and now Check Point Research has uncovered Rampant Kitten, an Iranian hacker group that has monitored and spied on Iran’s government political opponents for years. Rampant Kitten has developed special Android malware capable of intercepting and stealing two-factor authentication (2FA) codes sent via SMS.

The hackers use malware disguised as Android applications via the target’s mobile phone or computer. This malware can focus on any service and it targets Google, Telegram and other major Internet or social services.

The thinking is that Rampant Kitten operators would use the Android Trojan to show a Google phishing page, capture the user's account credentials, and then access the victim's account. Check Point says the group has been active for at least six years and has been engaged in an ongoing surveillance operation against Iranian minorities, anti-regime organisations, and resistance movements. 

The primary targets include supporters of Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and the Azerbaijan National Resistance Organisation, two prominent resistance movements that advocate the liberation of Iranian people and minorities within Iran.

The attackers first use a phishing Trojan to collect login details, and then try those with the real site. If the victim has two-factor authentication turned on, the newly-reported malware intercepts the incoming SMS messages and quietly sends copies to the intruders.

The code also has tools to grab contacts, text message logs and even microphone audio, but it’s unusually centered around two-factor data. It has so far been found in an app pretending to help Persian speakers in Sweden get driver’s licenses, but it might be available in other apps.

The campaign was initially uncovered by the discovery of a document targeting the MEK in Albania. The MEK had originally been headquartered in Iraq, but following mounting political tensions had moved to Albania. The malicious document uses an external template downloaded from a remote server.

Analysis of this payload led to the discovery of multiple variants dating back to 2014. This uncovered further websites, operated by the same group. Some of these websites hosted phishing pages impersonating Telegram.

Surprisingly, this phishing attack seems to have been known to Iranian Telegram users as several Iranian Telegram channels sent out warnings against the phishing sites, claiming that the Iranian regime is behind them. Rampant Kitten appears to have been running this campaign largely undetected for at least six years. The targets seem to be dissidents associated with a number of anti-regime Iranian groups.

It seems almost certain that this is another example of Iranian threat actors, quite possibly with some affiliation to the Iranian regime, collecting intelligence on potential opponents to the regime. 

While it is widely accepted that state-sponsored hacking groups are usually capable of bypassing 2FA, it is very rare that we get an insight into their tools and how they do it.

Check Point Research:      Arab News:     Security Week:      ZDNet:        Engadget

You Might Also Read:

New Iranian Ransomware Groups Detected:

 

 

« Facebook Too Slow At Removing Fake News
Australia Wants Google & Facebook To Pay For News »

CyberSecurity Jobsite
Perimeter 81

Directory of Suppliers

BackupVault

BackupVault

BackupVault is a leading provider of completely automatic, fully encrypted online, cloud backup.

XYPRO Technology

XYPRO Technology

XYPRO is the market leader in HPE Non-Stop Security, Risk Management and Compliance.

Cyber Security Supplier Directory

Cyber Security Supplier Directory

Free Access: Cyber Security Supplier Directory listing 5,000+ specialist service providers.

IT Governance

IT Governance

IT Governance is a leading global provider of information security solutions. Download our free guide and find out how ISO 27001 can help protect your organisation's information.

DigitalStakeout

DigitalStakeout

DigitalStakeout enables cyber security professionals to reduce cyber risk to their organization with proactive security solutions, providing immediate improvement in security posture and ROI.

MIRACL

MIRACL

MIRACL provides the world’s only single step Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) which can replace passwords on 100% of mobiles, desktops or even Smart TVs.

WEBINAR: Enhance Your Cloud Security With EDR &NDR

WEBINAR: Enhance Your Cloud Security With EDR &NDR

Thursday, 19 May, 2022 - Join this webinar to learn how to apply endpoint and network detection and response (EDR/NDR) concepts to your cloud asset protection strategy.

CSI Consulting Services

CSI Consulting Services

Get Advice From The Experts: * Training * Penetration Testing * Data Governance * GDPR Compliance. Connecting you to the best in the business.

Practice Labs

Practice Labs

Practice Labs is an IT competency hub, where live-lab environments give access to real equipment for hands-on practice of essential cybersecurity skills.

Resecurity, Inc.

Resecurity, Inc.

Resecurity is a cybersecurity company that delivers a unified platform for endpoint protection, risk management, and cyber threat intelligence.

Omerta IT

Omerta IT

Omerta IT help you protect your organisation by helping ensure you have the best IT Security professionals working for you.

Cloudmark

Cloudmark

Cloudmark is a trusted leader in intelligent threat protection against known and future attacks, safeguarding 12 percent of the world’s inboxes from wide-scale and targeted email threats.

EdgeWave

EdgeWave

EdgeWave provides simple but highly effective data security and advanced threat protection in solutions that are affordable, scalable and easy to use.

TeachPrivacy

TeachPrivacy

TeachPrivacy provides computer-based privacy and data security training that is engaging, memorable, and understandable.

Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills

Herbert Smith Freehills is a leading professional services business offering legal services in specialist areas including cyber security.

Altitude Networks

Altitude Networks

Altitude Networks is at the forefront of enterprise cloud security and data loss protection, protecting your company’s data against unauthorized access, accidental or malicious sharing, and theft.

IntelliGenesis

IntelliGenesis

IntelliGenesis provide comprehensive cyber, data science, analysis, and software development services that provide tailored, secure solutions for your critical data and intelligence needs.

FPT Software

FPT Software

As a leading technology service provider, FPT assists customers of all sizes and from any industries in implementing and adapting digital technologies including cybersecurity.