Criminals are chasing your phone now

– It’s Black Week. Many are stressed, several have made various online orders here and there. And it’s Christmas gift season. On that occasion, there is a greater chance that people are a little stressed, lower the guard and click on a little too many links, says director Roar Thon in the National Security Authority (NSM).

DO NOT CLICK: Telenor warns Norwegian mobile customers. Photo: TV 2

Bergen municipality affected

At the time of writing, TV 2’s reporter has received four text messages in the last 24 hours. Two of these have telephone numbers related to Bergen municipality.

– It seems serious and professional, says digitization director Kjetil Århus at Bergen municipality.

He confirms that the municipality has received inquiries from people who have contacted because they have received similar text messages where Bergen municipality has been listed as the sender.

– Some employees have obviously helped to spread the text messages further from their work phones. Do you want to notify and warn employees specifically now?

– Yes, we think we should remind people of the general rules of caution. Whether we take it online or via text messages, we have not decided, says Århus to TV 2.

Breaks all records

During Wednesday, Telenor’s spam filter broke all records. The company has never seen a similar attack. 385,000 text messages with great potential for damage have been stopped within 24 hours, TV 2 is informed.

MONITOR 24/7: In Telenor's security center, the company handles various forms of attacks aimed at mobile and broadband networks around the clock.  Photo: Jan Peter Lehne

MONITOR 24/7: In Telenor’s security center, the company handles various forms of attacks aimed at mobile and broadband networks around the clock. Photo: Jan Peter Lehne

– The scary thing about this attack is that the criminals can get full access to your mobile phone, they can download everything you have on the phone, photos, business sensitive information, they can access the camera, microphone, etc. I would say that is very serious, says Thon.

VERY SERIOUS: Roar Thon, Head of Department at the National Security Authority (NSM), believes that the potential for harm to individuals who download viruses on their own telephone is great.  Photo: NSM

VERY SERIOUS: Roar Thon, Head of Department at the National Security Authority (NSM), believes that the potential for harm to individuals who download viruses on their own telephone is great. Photo: NSM

Spread quickly

An unknown number of Norwegians have – despite all warnings – downloaded viruses on the phone after receiving a text message. This in turn has helped to spread the damage further. Telia customers are also affected.

– When the virus enters your phone, the virus uses your phone to send text messages, explains security expert Per Torsheim.

FOREIGN CRIMINALS: Norwegian telecommunications customers are the target.  Photo: Kåre Breivik / TV 2

FOREIGN CRIMINALS: Norwegian telecommunications customers are the target. Photo: Kåre Breivik / TV 2

You can send a large number of text messages from your and my phone to others.

– The criminals use Norwegian telephone customers who spread this further. The telecom operators have become better at picking up when this comes from abroad. Now it is sent from Norwegian mobile customers, Thorsheim explains.

Record-breaking attack

Late Wednesday afternoon, the telecommunications company reports that it has blocked 385,000 text messages that have been used in a massive criminal attack on Norwegian telecommunications customers.

– As far as I know, we have not blocked so many text messages in such a short time. It is very loud and shows how big the attack is, says information manager Magnus Line in Telenor.

ATTACK: Telenor has never experienced such a blow.  90 thousand messages were captured in the spam filter in two hours, says information manager Magnus Line to TV 2. Photo: Martin Fjellanger Telenor

ATTACK: Telenor has never experienced such a blow. 90 thousand messages were captured in the spam filter in two hours, says information manager Magnus Line to TV 2. Photo: Martin Fjellanger Telenor

Telenor does not know how many people pass the blocking filter. That the attack is launched during the so-called “Black Week” week is not entirely coincidental, Line thinks.

– This can clearly be related to Black Week, and maybe we will see a new attack before Christmas where stress moments related to Christmas shopping are in the picture, Line says.

NOT IPHONE: The malware application, which goes by the name Flubot, has in record time spread among many Norwegian mobile phone users.  But the malware can only be installed on Android phones.  Photo: Loic Venance

NOT IPHONE: The malware application, which goes by the name Flubot, has in record time spread among many Norwegian mobile phone users. But the malware can only be installed on Android phones. Photo: Loic Venance

Attacks only Android phones

– The most important thing for a consumer to know is that you can not install the malware on an Apple product, but that does not prevent you from receiving the file, explains Vidar Sandland, senior adviser at the Norwegian Center for Information Security (NorSIS).

Those with Iphone and Apple products can thus relax, because it is simply impossible to install this malicious software.

– For those who have Android phones, about half of the population, however, it is possible to install this malware, Sandland says.

ANDROID ONLY: - Only those who have Android phones, about half of the population, can install this malware, says senior adviser Vidar Sandland at NorSIS.  Photo: Photographers BeckBack

ANDROID ONLY: – Only those who have Android phones, about half of the population, can install this malware, says senior adviser Vidar Sandland at NorSIS. Photo: Photographers BeckBack

But just clicking on the link in the text message is not dangerous, Sandland explains.

– This is what you do afterwards, when you are told to install an application and you answer all security questions. If you then choose to ignore all warnings, malware can ensure that criminals have both access and full control over your phone, says Sandland.

Old technology

– We see that these attacks change in several forms to try to avoid being blocked and stopped. The extent and size says something about the criminals being willing to invest in this form of crime, says Chris Dale, as a security expert at River Security.

SMS and telephony are old technology.

– That’s why it is so incredibly easy to abuse for cybercriminals, Dale believes.

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