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Thursday, 16 July 2020 09:51

Two for two: Nefilim gang claims hit on subsidiary of France's Orange SA

Two for two: Nefilim gang claims hit on subsidiary of France's Orange SA @orange-NicolasGouhier

Attackers have used the Nefilim ransomware, that can encrypt files on Windows systems, to attack a subsidiary of Orange SA, formerly France Télécom SA, a French multinational telecommunications corporation and posted a note indicating that the attack has taken place.

It has 266 million customers worldwide and employs 89,000 people in France, and 59,000 elsewhere. It is the 10th largest mobile network operator in the world and the fourth largest in Europe after Vodafone, Telefónica and VEON.

But the documents released do not make reference to Orange. They mainly relate to Aero technique Espace and ATR, neither of which is a subsidiary. Indeed, ATR is a subsidiary of Airbus.

Of itself, the company says it has 65 million 4G customers worldwide and is top provider of fibre to the home in Europe, with 37.1 million homes able to be connected.

Orange SA says it has invested €700 million (A$1.1 billion) in research and innovation. It also has 39.2 million Orange Money customers.

The company has 6857 patents in its portfolio and supports more than 1000 start-ups as part of its programs. There are 8000 Orange volunteers who work for the Orange Foundation in 30 countries.

orange screenshot

A screenshot from the Nefilim site. Supplied

Orange SA was the 49th best known brand in the 2018 global brand rankings and named the best mobile network in France for the eighth straight time that year.

It also has 11,000 new permanent employees in France, 248,000 followers on Twitter and more than 28.2 million Facebook fans. The company also runs a digital bank.

The Nefilim ransomware was in the news when a gang used it to attack Australian logistics and transport provider Toll Holdings in May.

The same ransomware was used to attack appliance maker Fisher & Paykel last month.

Nefilim, which recently attacked logistics and transportation firm Toll Holdings, is one of the growing number of ransomware that exfiltrates victims' files before encrypting them on-site.

This, in effect, means that any victim is hit by both a data breach and also loses access to his/her files.

Contacted for comment, an Orange spokesperson said: "A cryptovirus-type computer attack was detected by Orange teams during the night of Saturday 4 July to Sunday 5 July. Orange teams were immediately mobilised to identify the origin of this attack and have put in place all necessary solutions required to ensure the security of our systems.

"According to initial analysis by security experts, this attack has concerned data hosted on one of our Neocles IT platforms, 'Le Forfait informatique', and no other service has been affected.

"However, this attack seems to have allowed hackers to access the data of around 20 PRO / SME customers hosted on the platform. Affected customers have already been informed by Orange teams and Orange continues to monitor and investigate this breach. Orange apologises for the inconvenience caused."

Emsisoft's Brett Callow said of the attack: "S uccessful ransomware attacks on large enterprises were once quite rare, but are becoming increasingly commonplace. The shift is not at all surprising: the strategies used in attacks have become increasingly sophisticated, enabling bigger companies to be targeted, and bigger victims means bigger ransoms.

"Why waste your time extorting a few thousand from a local business when you can extort a few million from a multinational?

Added Callow, who works as a ransomware threat researcher for the New Zealand-headquartered firm: "But while the attacks are becoming more sophisticated, they're still preventable. Prompt patching, using multi-factor authentication everywhere that it can be used and all the other security basics that are oft recommended would be sufficient to prevent most attacks, and limit the scope of those that did succeed."

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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