The Octo Tempest Cybercrime Gang – A Global Cybercriminal/Hacker Group Attacking The Financial Industry
What is the Octo Tempest Cybercrime Gang
Octo Tempest is a professional organized cybercriminals group that emerged in 2021 and has since become one of the most active and sophisticated threat actors in the global cybersecurity landscape. The group is known for its highly targeted attacks on large corporations and financial institutions, often stealing millions of dollars in the process.
Octo Tempest is a highly skilled group that utilizes a wide range of attack techniques, including:
- Social engineering: Tricking victims into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.
- Spear-phishing: Sending targeted emails that appear to be from legitimate sources, such as banks or government agencies.
- Malware: Using malicious software to gain access to victims’ computers and networks.
- Zero-day exploits: Taking advantage of vulnerabilities in software that the developers are not aware of.
Octo Tempest is also known for its ability to adapt its tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to evade detection and stay ahead of security defenses. The group has a sophisticated infrastructure that includes multiple layers of encryption and anonymization, making it difficult to track its activities.
As of today, Octo Tempest remains active and continues to pose a significant threat to organizations worldwide. It is important for businesses and individuals to be aware of the group’s capabilities and take steps to protect themselves from its attacks.
Octo Tempest Cybercrime Examples
some examples of specific Octo Tempest attacks or cybercrime:
SIM-swapping attacks: Octo Tempest has been known to use SIM-swapping attacks, which involve tricking mobile phone carriers into transferring a victim’s phone number to a SIM card controlled by the attackers. This allows the attackers to intercept the victim’s text messages and phone calls, including two-factor authentication codes. Octo Tempest has used SIM-swapping attacks to steal millions of dollars from cryptocurrency exchanges.
Data breaches: Octo Tempest has also been involved in a number of high-profile data breaches, including the breaches of MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment in September 2023. In these attacks, the attackers stole the personal information of millions of customers, including names, addresses, and credit card numbers.
Ransomware attacks: In addition to data breaches, Octo Tempest has also been linked to ransomware attacks. In these attacks, the attackers encrypt a victim’s computer files and demand a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key. Octo Tempest has been known to target large corporations with ransomware attacks, demanding millions of dollars in ransom payments.
These are just a few examples of the many attacks that Octo Tempest has been involved in. The group is a constant threat to businesses and individuals alike, and it is important to be aware of its capabilities and take steps to protect yourself.
According to Microsoft:
Octo Tempest monetized their intrusions in 2022 by selling SIM swaps to other criminals and performing account takeovers of high-net-worth individuals to steal their cryptocurrency.
According to Malwarebytes:
Octo Tempest is believed to be a group of native English speaking cybercriminals that uses social engineering campaigns to compromise organizations all over the world.
Initially the group made a name for itself by SIM swapping. SIM swapping, also known as SIM jacking, is the act of illegally taking over a target’s cell phone number. This can be done in a number of ways, but the most common ones involve social engineering attacks on the victim’s carrier.
Since then the group has expanded its range of activities to include targeting organizations providing cable telecommunications, email, and tech services, and partnering with the ALPHV/BlackCat ransomware group.
According to DarkReading:
The financially motivated hacking group Octo Tempest, responsible for attacking MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment in September, has been branded “one of the most dangerous financial criminal groups” by Microsoft’s Incident Response and Threat Intelligence team.
The group, also known as 0ktapus, Scattered Spider, and UNC3944, has been active since early 2022, initially targeting telecom and outsourcing companies with SIM swap attacks.
It later shifted to extortion using stolen data, and by mid-2023 the group had partnered with ALPHV/BlackCat ransomware, initially leveraging the ALPHV Collections leak site and later deploying the ransomware, focusing on VMWare ESXi servers.
How Octo Tempest Works
Octo Tempest’s recent attacks targeted organizations across a variety of industries, including gaming, natural resources, hospitality, consumer goods, retail, managed service providers, manufacturing, legal, technology, and financial services.
Octo Tempest typically gains initial access through advanced social engineering, which targets the accounts of technical administrators with sufficient privileges, such as support and help desk personnel, for further attacks.
- Octo Tempest also conducts voice phishing, which tricks technical administrators into performing a password reset and resetting multi-factor authentication (MFA) settings by mimicking voice. Other methods of initial access include:
- Trick the target into installing remote monitoring and management software
- Login information is stolen through phishing websites
- Buy credentials or conversation scepters from other cybercriminals
- Newsletter: Phishing employees with fake login pages with captureable credentials
- SIM swap or call forwarding
- Direct threats of violence
Once sufficient access is obtained, the Octo Tempest hacker initiates the reconnaissance phase of the attack by enumerating local machines and services and abusing legitimate channels for incursions. Scouts include cross-cloud environments, code repositories, servers, and backup management systems.
To hide the trail of the attack, Octo Tempest also targets the accounts of security personnel, which enables them to disable security products and features. Microsoft says Octo Tempest leverages EDR and device management technologies to allow malicious tools, deploy RMM software, remove or compromise security products, steal sensitive data files, including credential files, signal databases, and deploy malicious payloads.
Octo Tempest Cybercrime History
here is a summary of the Octo Tempest cybercrime history:
- Emergence of Octo Tempest: Octo Tempest first appeared in 2021, quickly gaining notoriety for its sophisticated attacks and ability to evade detection.
- Target High-Profile Entities: Octo Tempest began targeting high-profile entities, including large corporations, financial institutions, and government agencies.
- Data Breaches and Ransomware Attacks: The group was involved in several data breaches and ransomware attacks, stealing sensitive information and demanding substantial ransom payments.
- Evolving Techniques: Octo Tempest continuously evolved its techniques, adapting to cybersecurity measures and employing zero-day exploits to gain unauthorized access.
- Continued Activity: Octo Tempest remained active throughout 2023, demonstrating its persistence and adaptability.
- SIM Swapping Attacks: The group employed SIM swapping attacks to steal millions of dollars from cryptocurrency exchanges, highlighting their ability to compromise even secure systems.
- Evasion and Anonymity: Octo Tempest maintained its elusiveness by utilizing multiple layers of encryption and anonymization, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to track them down.
- Active Threat: Octo Tempest remains an active and significant threat to organizations worldwide, posing a constant challenge for cybersecurity professionals.
- Global Impact: The group’s attacks have had a global impact, affecting businesses and individuals across various industries and regions.
Law Enforcement Actions Targeting Octo Tempest
Octo Tempest is an elusive and well-resourced threat group, making it difficult for law enforcement to gather sufficient evidence and bring charges against its members. However, law enforcement agencies are actively investigating the group’s activities and collaborating with cybersecurity organizations to share intelligence and disrupt their operations.
Here are some notable law enforcement actions targeting Octo Tempest:
- FBI Investigation: The FBI is investigating Octo Tempest and has issued alerts warning businesses and individuals about the group’s attacks.
- International Cooperation: Law enforcement agencies from around the world are collaborating to share information and track Octo Tempest’s activities.
- Cybersecurity Partnerships: Law enforcement agencies are partnering with cybersecurity organizations to develop and deploy tools and techniques to detect and disrupt Octo Tempest’s attacks.
While it is challenging to bring Octo Tempest to justice due to its sophisticated tactics and global operations, law enforcement agencies are committed to pursuing the group and protecting the public from its cybercrime.
Here are some specific examples of law enforcement actions targeting Octo Tempest:
- In 2022, the FBI issued an alert warning business about Octo Tempest’s SIM-swapping attacks.
- In 2023, the FBI partnered with cybersecurity firm Mandiant to disrupt Octo Tempest’s infrastructure and prevent further attacks.
- Law enforcement agencies in the United States, Europe, and Asia have shared information about Octo Tempest’s activities and are working together to track the group’s members.
While these actions have not yet resulted in charges against Octo Tempest’s members, they have demonstrated the commitment of law enforcement agencies to pursuing the group and disrupting its operations.
In addition to law enforcement actions, cybersecurity organizations are also playing a crucial role in combating Octo Tempest. These organizations are developing tools and techniques to detect and disrupt the group’s attacks and are providing training and resources to businesses and individuals to help them protect themselves from cybercrime.