Wipro Gets Phished to Gain Access to Clients

Sources say that the company was being used as the start of 'digital fishing expeditions targeting at least a dozen Wipro customer systems.'

One of the nicer things that comes along with being a well known security guy like Brian Krebs is that sources leak to you. Sometimes they leak bad information, but other times you get the goods on a situation that might not have otherwise seen the light of day. The latter seems to have happened here.

In his blog, Krebs says that he heard from two "trusted" sources earlier this month that Bengaluru, India-based Wipro was dealing with a multi-month intrusion from an assumed state-sponsored attacker. Wipro operates in North America, parts of South America, Australia, India, China, South Africa, as well as parts of Europe outsourcing IT projects from many enterprises.

It wasn't just Wipro at risk. The sources said that the company was being used as the start of "digital fishing expeditions targeting at least a dozen Wipro customer systems." It seems that Wipro's internal security teams had traced network reconnaissance activity back to partner systems which communicated directly with Wipro's network. When Krebs contacted Wipro, they stonewalled him.

However, they have since admitted to Reuters that "We detected a potentially abnormal activity in a few employee accounts on our network due to an advanced phishing campaign," and that it had retained an independent forensic firm to assist in the investigation.

Wipro did not say which clients, if any, had been compromised. One source told Krebs that, "Wipro is now in the process of building out a new private email network because the intruders were thought to have compromised Wipro's corporate email system for some time. The source also said Wipro is now telling concerned clients about specific 'indicators of compromise,' telltale clues about tactics, tools and procedures used by the bad guys that might signify an attempted or successful intrusion."

This situation resembles the Chinese-sponsored Cloudhopper attacks that affected HPE and IBM at the end of last year. Cloudhopper targeted managed service providers (MSPs) to access client networks and steal corporate secrets from companies around the globe. One of the great concerns that arose around the concept of "outsourcing" at its inception was if the contractor could maintain data integrity and security during the processing that would be occurring. Since price was the main attraction of its business model, it seemed inevitable that corners would be cut in some areas since there would be less overall funding.

And that corner-cutting seems to have occurred. Wipro seems to have a mail system that needs to be rebuilt from the ground floor up. The specifics of this situation will eventually be revealed, and then mediation strategies can be discussed. Until then, if any processing of your enterprise data is done by Wipro (or if one of your contractors uses them for your data), proceed with care.

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.