Chinese Hackers Compromise Telecom Servers to Spy on SMS Messages

sms malware

A group of Chinese hackers carrying out political espionage for Beijing has been found targeting telecommunications companies with a new piece of malware designed to spy on text messages sent or received by highly targeted individuals.

Dubbed “MessageTap,” the backdoor malware is a 64-bit ELF data miner that has recently been discovered installed on a Linux-based Short Message Service Center (SMSC) server of an unnamed telecommunications company.

According to a recent report published by FireEye’s Mandiant firm, MessageTap has been created and used by APT41, a prolific Chinese hacking group that carries out state-sponsored espionage operations and has also been found involved in financially motivated attacks.

In mobile telephone networks, SMSC servers act as a middle-man service responsible for handling the SMS operations by routing messages between senders and recipients.

Since SMSes are not designed to be encrypted, neither on transmitting nor on the telecom servers, compromising an SMSC system allows attackers to monitor all network connections to and from the server as well as data within them.

How Does MessageTap Malware Work?

MessageTap uses the libpcap library to…

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