Ukrainian investigators are celebrating after claiming to have arrested a prolific mobile hacking gang which targeted victims via Apple and Samsung phishing sites.
Cyber-specialists arrested five alleged members of the so-called “Phoenix” group at the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU).
Users were apparently lured to their phishing sites and, after downloading an app there, would unwittingly give the hackers remote access to their devices.
“The data obtained in this way allowed the attackers to withdraw funds from citizens’ accounts and sell information about their private lives to third parties,” the SSU explained. “The average ‘cost’ for unauthorized access to a mobile phone owner’s account was $200.”
The group also made money by unlocking lost and stolen Apple gadgets which were subsequently sold through a network of stores in the cities of Kyiv and Kharkiv.
Phoenix had apparently been active for at least two years, amassing hundreds of victims over that time.
Investigators searched five addresses, including the suspected hackers’ homes and ‘telephone shops’ which were actually “underground technical centers.”
They seized stolen mobile phones and computing equipment including software and hardware designed to hijack accounts.
Interestingly, the five residents of Kyiv and Kharkiv are all said to have graduated from higher technical colleges. A lack of opportunities for the large number of science and technology graduates in the region is one explanation for the size of the Russian-speaking cybercrime underground.
Ukrainian police last month arrested a suspected botnet herder responsible for controlling an automated network of 100,000 compromised machines to launch DDoS and other attacks.
The alleged Phoenix group members are facing charges related to illegal interference in computers and networks under Article 361 of the country’s criminal code