Iranian Gov Hackers, intercept 2FA via SMS to access activist accounts

Posted by on Oct 20, 2018 in Blog |

Iranian government hackers in the recent months, repeatedly managed to hack activists / journalist email and social media accounts protected by Two Factor Authentication. The first major incident reported in the media was Imam Ali charity in Iran, although this was not the first by any means. here are their Tweets (in Persian), informing Gmail, Telegram, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts of a large number of their colleagues in the organization has been hacked:

And in late September, a lawyer has tweeted the same attacks on her Gmail and Telegram accounts, and also many other woman’s rights activists in Iran:

How this possibly happens:

What happens is Iranian security forces have successfully phished or otherwise gained access to a target’s Gmail password. Then they send a 2FA request, usually in very early mornings when target is sleep, using the victim’s phone number. As they have full access to the country’s mobile operator networks, they intercept the 6 digit code sent by Google:

In many cases, they don’t even need the password, as they can also request a password reset request (Again!) by entering the phone number in Gmail.

Once they have access to the email of the victim, they start resetting passwords of their social media accounts, i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc.

Using the same technique, for instant messengers:

As most instant messenger Apps, i.e. Telegram, Whatsapp and others use SMS to authenticate their users, once attacker can intercept the victims SMS, they can simply authenticate a new session for their instant messengers and read their messages. Very few IMs like Telegram, actually offer a second factor for authentication – in case of telegram, a password – but many do not have this function activated, as it is not required by the platform.

Workarounds:

Iranian users are advised to use offline methods only, i.e TOTP for their second factor authentication, and delete their phone numbers from their google records so it can not be used for password recovery or 2FA fallback. As for the instant messengers, they should activate the 2FA for the platforms that support this, and quit the ones they don’t support 2FA.

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Blog updates

Posted by on Mar 30, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Dear Project Ainita users;

It has been some time! Our blog needs some serious posts and updates for you. On behalf of our small team and as project director, I apologize to you. 2017 was an amazing ride, and it came with all sorts of challenges, many new projects, and ended up in a massive sociopolitical unrest in Iran. All of which kept us so busy, blog updates took a back seat.

But you will see a few posts in the coming days, reporting back to you on some stuff we have been busy with, projects like major improvement of our free VPN network, our research work, our response to the late December events in Iran, and other stuff we want to share with you.

دوستان و همراهان گرامی پروژه آی نیتا:

مدت زمان زیادی بود که وبلاگ پروژه نیاز به چند پست خیلی جدی و به روز رسانی برای شما عزیزان داشت. از طرف تیم کوچک پروژه آی نیتا و به عنوان مدیر پروژه، من از شما عذرخواهی میکنم. سال ۲۰۱۷ سال بسیار پرباری بود، و با چالش های زیادی دست و پنجه نرم کردیم از جمله درگیر شدن در تعداد زیادی پروژه های جدید و در نهایت و در پایان سال هم شلوغی های اجتماعی – سیاسی ایران، که همه آنچنان ما رو مشغول نگه داشتند که به روز رسانی این وبلاگ به عقب افتاد.

ولی ظرف چند روز اینده تعدادی پست جدید در راه هستند، که به شما دوستان گزارش های کوتاهی از پروژه هایی که در آن درگیر بودیم خواهیم داد.  به عنوان مثال بهینه سازی اساسی شبکه وی پی ان رایگان ما، کارهای تحقیقاتی که انجام شده، واکنش به مشکلات پیش آمده شبکه در اعتراض های دیماه و بقیه مواردی که ما رو به خودشون سرگرم نگه داشتند.

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Ownership in Iran’s Telecom sector

Posted by on Sep 3, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

Tehran based news website eghtesadonline has published a very interesting infograph, showing ownership of major telecom operators in Iran. All of them are one way or another controlled by the government, and 3/4th of them are controlled by the organizations under the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khameneie.

وب سایت خبری اقتصاد آنلاین جدولی جالب منتشر کرده است که نحوه مالکیت شرکتهای مخابراتی مهم ایران را به تصویر میکشد. همه این شرکتها مستقیم یا غیر مستقیم دولتی هستند و سه چهارم این شرکتها نیز مالکیتشان به سازمان ها و نهاد های زیر نظر رهبر ایران, آیت الله خامنه ای برمیگردد

 

IR_Telecom_Ownership_2016-09-03

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