Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Mobile

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
Zero-Factor Authentication: Owning Our Data
Nick Selby, Chief Security Officer at Paxos Trust Company,  2/19/2020
44% of Security Threats Start in the Cloud
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/19/2020
Ransomware Damage Hit $11.5B in 2019
Dark Reading Staff 2/20/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
The concept of application security is well known, but application security testing and remediation processes remain unbalanced. Most organizations are confident in their approach to AppSec, although others seem to have no approach at all. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-5524
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-21
Aterm series (Aterm WF1200C firmware Ver1.2.1 and earlier, Aterm WG1200CR firmware Ver1.2.1 and earlier, Aterm WG2600HS firmware Ver1.3.2 and earlier) allows an attacker on the same network segment to execute arbitrary OS commands with root privileges via UPnP function.
CVE-2020-5525
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-21
Aterm series (Aterm WF1200C firmware Ver1.2.1 and earlier, Aterm WG1200CR firmware Ver1.2.1 and earlier, Aterm WG2600HS firmware Ver1.3.2 and earlier) allows an authenticated attacker on the same network segment to execute arbitrary OS commands with root privileges via management screen.
CVE-2020-5533
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-21
Cross-site scripting vulnerability in Aterm WG2600HS firmware Ver1.3.2 and earlier allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors.
CVE-2020-5534
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-21
Aterm WG2600HS firmware Ver1.3.2 and earlier allows an authenticated attacker on the same network segment to execute arbitrary OS commands with root privileges via unspecified vectors.
CVE-2014-7914
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-21
btif/src/btif_dm.c in Android before 5.1 does not properly enforce the temporary nature of a Bluetooth pairing, which allows user-assisted remote attackers to bypass intended access restrictions via crafted Bluetooth packets after the tapping of a crafted NFC tag.