Scattered Spider Cybercriminal Collective – SIM Swap Cyberattacks 2023

(Last Updated On: November 28, 2023)

Scattered Spider Cybercriminal Collective & SIM Swap Cyberattacks

How One Cybercriminal Group Steals Your Phone Number and Takes Control of Your Accounts

Organized Criminal Enterprise – A SCARS Insight

Scattered Spider SIM Swapping Attacks Allow Scammers To Completely Take Over Your Phone And Then All Of Your Accounts!

Scattered Spider is a financially motivated cybercriminal group that has gained notoriety for its sophisticated SIM-swapping attacks.

Scattered Spider’s SIM swapping attacks are particularly concerning due to their high level of sophistication and the group’s ability to evade detection. The group has been known to target high-net-worth individuals, cryptocurrency holders, and business executives, causing significant financial losses and reputational damage.

Who is the Scatetred Spider Cybercriminal Collective

Scattered Spider: A Notorious Cybercrime Syndicate

Scattered Spider, also known as 0ktapus, Starfraud, UNC3944, Scatter Swine, Octo Tempest, and Muddled Libra, is a financially motivated cybercrime group that has gained notoriety for its sophisticated SIM-swapping attacks. Operating since at least 2020, the group has targeted high-net-worth individuals, cryptocurrency holders, and business executives, causing significant financial losses and reputational damage.

Scattered Spider’s operations are not confined to a specific geographical region. They have targeted individuals and businesses across the globe, demonstrating their ability to adapt and evade detection. The group’s global reach highlights the interconnectedness of the digital landscape and the need for enhanced cybersecurity measures worldwide.

Law enforcement agencies have been actively investigating Scattered Spider’s activities. In 2022, the FBI issued an advisory warning about the group’s tactics and urged potential victims to take precautionary measures. Cybersecurity firms have also provided valuable insights into Scattered Spider’s infrastructure and methods.

What is a SIM Swap Attack

A SIM swap cyberattack, also known as SIM jacking or SIM card hijacking, is a type of social engineering attack that involves tricking a victim’s mobile carrier into transferring their phone number to a SIM card controlled by the attacker. This allows the attacker to intercept all calls, text messages, and even two-factor authentication (2FA) codes sent to the victim’s phone number.

How SIM Swapping Works

SIM swapping attacks typically involve a multi-step process:

  1. Information Gathering: The attacker gathers personal information about their target through various means, including social media, data breaches, and phishing attacks.

  2. Social Engineering: Using the gathered information, the attacker contacts the victim’s mobile carrier and impersonates the victim. They may provide convincing details about the victim’s identity, account information, and recent transactions to gain the carrier’s trust.

  3. SIM Swap Execution: Once the carrier is convinced, the attacker requests a SIM swap, transferring the victim’s phone number to a SIM card they control.

  4. Financial Gain: With control of the victim’s phone number, the attacker can intercept 2FA codes and access the victim’s online financial accounts, initiating fraudulent transactions and draining their funds.

According to the FBI & CISA

Left Open Quote - on RomanceScamsNOW.comScattered Spider SUMMARY The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are releasing this joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) in response to recent activity by Scattered Spider threat actors against the commercial facilities sectors and subsectors. This advisory provides tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) obtained through FBI investigations as recently as November 2023. Scattered Spider is a cybercriminal group that targets large companies and their contracted information technology (IT) help desks. Scattered Spider threat actors, per trusted third parties, have typically engaged in data theft for extortion and have also been known to utilize BlackCat/ALPHV ransomware alongside their usual TTPs. The FBI and CISA encourage critical infrastructure organizations to implement the recommendations in the Mitigations section of this CSA to reduce the likelihood and impact of a cyberattack by Scattered Spider actors.

For more see the PDF below.

The Impact of Scattered Spider Attacks

Scattered Spider’s attacks have had a significant impact on individuals and businesses:

  1. Financial Losses: Victims have suffered substantial financial losses due to unauthorized transactions, cryptocurrency theft, and identity theft.

  2. Reputational Damage: Businesses that have fallen victim to Scattered Spider’s attacks have faced reputational damage and loss of customer trust.

  3. Psychological Distress: Victims have experienced emotional distress and anxiety due to the violation of their privacy and the financial losses they have incurred.

An Example of a high-profile Scattered Spider Attack:

Target: A cryptocurrency investor

Method: SIM swapping

Outcome: $1 million in cryptocurrency stolen

Details:

In 2022, Scattered Spider targeted a cryptocurrency investor by tricking the investor’s mobile carrier into transferring the investor’s phone number to a SIM card controlled by the group. With control of the investor’s phone number, Scattered Spider was able to intercept 2FA codes and access the investor’s cryptocurrency wallet. The group then stole $1 million in cryptocurrency from the investor’s wallet.

This attack highlights the sophisticated nature of Scattered Spider’s SIM-swapping attacks and the potential for significant financial losses. Cryptocurrency investors are particularly vulnerable to these attacks, as their digital assets can be easily stolen if attackers gain access to their wallets.

Here are some additional details about the attack:

    • The attackers spent months gathering information about the investors, including their phone numbers, social media profiles, and online activity.
    • The attackers used this information to impersonate the investor when they contacted the investor’s mobile carrier.
    • The attackers were able to convince the carrier to transfer the investor’s phone number to them by providing convincing details about the investor’s identity and account information.
    • Once they had control of the investor’s phone number, the attackers were able to intercept 2FA codes sent to the investor’s phone.
    • The attackers used these 2FA codes to access the investor’s cryptocurrency wallets and steal their funds.

This attack is a reminder of the importance of taking steps to protect yourself from SIM-swapping attacks. These steps include:

    • Using strong and unique passwords for all online accounts.
    • Enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible.
    • Being cautious about sharing personal information online.
    • Contact your mobile carrier directly if you suspect your SIM card has been compromised.

How to Protect Yourself from SIM Swapping Attacks

To protect yourself from SIM-swapping attacks, you can take the following steps:

  1. Use Strong Passwords and 2FA: Use strong and unique passwords for all online accounts, especially for financial accounts and email. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a code from your phone or a separate authentication app to log in, even if someone has your password.

  2. Avoid Oversharing Personal Information: Be cautious about sharing personal information online, especially on social media. This information can be used by attackers to gather intelligence about you and your accounts.

  3. Contact Mobile Carrier Directly: If you suspect your SIM card has been compromised, contact your mobile carrier directly and request to freeze your account. This will prevent the attacker from using your phone number for malicious purposes.

  4. Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date on the latest SIM swapping tactics and security best practices to stay ahead of evolving threats.

  5. Consider Porting to a More Secure Mobile Carrier: Some mobile carriers offer enhanced security measures and protocols specifically designed to protect against SIM swapping attacks.

By following these steps, you can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to a SIM-swapping attack.

Scattered Spider FBI/CISA Alert

Scattered Spider SIM-Swapping FBI/CISA Alert

SCARS Resources:

Other Cyber Resources

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