Previously Unknown Indian Firm Were Apparently Hackers For Hire…. Yikes!

Reuters is reporting that a previously unknown IT firm in India were apparently hackers for hire who spied on a variety of high value targets. Here’s the details:

A little-known Indian IT firm offered its hacking services to help clients spy on more than 10,000 email accounts over a period of seven years. New Delhi-based BellTroX InfoTech Services targeted government officials in Europe, gambling tycoons in the Bahamas, and well-known investors in the United States including private equity giant KKR and short seller Muddy Waters, according to three former employees, outside researchers, and a trail of online evidence. A cache of data reviewed by Reuters provides insight into the operation, detailing tens of thousands of malicious messages designed to trick victims into giving up their passwords that were sent by BellTroX between 2013 and 2020. The data was supplied on condition of anonymity by online service providers used by the hackers after Reuters alerted the firms to unusual patterns of activity on their platforms. On the list: judges in South Africa, politicians in Mexico, lawyers in France and environmental groups in the United States. These dozens of people, among the thousands targeted by BellTroX, did not respond to messages or declined comment. 

Researchers at internet watchdog group Citizen Lab, who spent more than two years mapping out the infrastructure used by the hackers, released a report here on Tuesday saying they had “high confidence” that BellTroX employees were behind the espionage campaign. “This is one of the largest spy-for-hire operations ever exposed,” said Citizen Lab researcher John Scott-Railton. Reuters was not able to establish how many of the hacking attempts were successful.

This firm at first blush seem to be a version of the rather infamous NSO Group. But to be clear, it doesn’t matter how successful or not that they happen to be. The fact is that groups like these are a legitimate threat that we’ll all need to deal with. Thus my advice for businesses and even individuals would be to make sure that your cyber securities are “on point” as the kids say so that you can avoid being a victim of a group like this.

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