September 25, 2017 By Larry Loeb 2 min read

New campaigns featuring FinFisher are underway with new infection enablers: internet service providers (ISPs), researchers at ESET warned. FinFisher, sometimes called FinSpy, is a well-known spyware program that has been used by nation-states to spy on citizens.

Spying Automatically via ISPs

FinFisher is a tool specifically designed to have the stealthy spy capabilities that George Orwell might understand. According to ESET’s blog, We Live Security, the spyware can perform live subject surveillance through the use of a computer’s webcam and microphone, keylogging of typed input and exfiltration of files. While FinFisher has been marketed as a way for authorities to monitor the bad guys, certain regimes have used it to gather information about people of interest to them.

ESET said that its security experts found FinFisher variants present in seven countries. It did not say in which countries they were found, however.

Along with this, the researchers were alarmed to see that a previously undetected method was used for infection in two of these countries: a man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack that involved ISPs. If a specific user requests certain apps — typically WhatsApp, Skype, Avast, WinRAR and VLC Player — the link request is replaced with an HTTP 307 Temporary Redirect status response code.

Replacing the normal link with a malicious one is something that would be relatively simple for an ISP to do if it was given a list of targets by authorities. The use of an HTTP 307 call is also invisible to the user, making it difficult to detect.

Suspicious Similarities

SecurityWeek recalled that leaked documents regarding Finfisher’s initial purveyor, Gamma Group, showed the existence of a tool called FinFly ISP that was designed for deployment on ISP networks. This tool had the ability to perform these kinds of MitM attacks.

ESET further noted that all of the affected targets in this campaign that were within a particular country were found to use the same ISP. Not only that, but the same redirection method and format had been previously used by other ISPs to modify internet content in at least one of the countries involved in this attack.

Using ISPs to infect and spy on users has never been revealed until now. These kinds of campaigns would represent what ESET called a “sophisticated and stealthy surveillance project unprecedented in its combination of methods and reach.”

More from

DHS establishes Artificial Intelligence Safety and Security Board

3 min read - As part of its commitment to addressing the rapid growth and adoption of AI technology across all industries and sectors, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the establishment of the Artificial Intelligence Safety and Security Board in late April. The Board’s first meeting is planned for early May when they will begin the task of focusing on how to develop and deploy AI technology within the United States’ critical infrastructure safely and securely. Based on the DHS Homeland Threat…

Working in the security clearance world: How security clearances impact jobs

2 min read - We recently published an article about the importance of security clearances for roles across various sectors, particularly those associated with national security and defense.But obtaining a clearance is only part of the journey. Maintaining and potentially expanding your clearance over time requires continued diligence and adherence to stringent guidelines.This brief explainer discusses the duration of security clearances, the recurring processes involved in maintaining them and possibilities for expansion, as well as the economic benefits of these credentialed positions.Duration of security…

White House cements CISA’s role as national coordinator for cybersecurity

2 min read - In 2013, the Obama Administration rolled out "The Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience", a forerunner to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), created "to strengthen and maintain secure, functioning and resilient critical infrastructure." The directive was groundbreaking in 2013, noting the importance of the rising risk of cyberattacks against critical infrastructure. But as cyber risks are constantly shifting, every cybersecurity program needs to be re-evaluated, and CISA is no exception. That’s why, in April 2024,…

Topic updates

Get email updates and stay ahead of the latest threats to the security landscape, thought leadership and research.
Subscribe today