Indian Petroleum Refineries Network Faces Enormous Cyber Attacks from October 2021 to April 2022: CyberPeace Foundation and Autobot Infosec

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The vulnerable, exposed systems that are unmonitored and facing the internet are the most attacked targets for threat actors.


 


Research done by CyberPeace Foundation (CPF), Autobot Infosec Private Limited, along with CyberPeace Center of Excellence (CCoE), has found that nearly 3.6 lakhs attack events have been recorded between October 2021 to April 2022 on Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) threat intelligence sensors network simulating the Petroleum Refinery network simulated by the research group in India.


 


The study is a part of CyberPeace Foundation’s e-Kawach program to implement a comprehensive public network and threat intelligence sensors across the country to capture internet traffic and analyze real time cyberattacks that a location or an organization faces. A credible intelligence on real-time threats empower organizations or a Country to build cybersecurity policies.


 


By deploying the simulated network, we can collect data on attack patterns, the different types of attack vector for the different protocols, and the recent trends of malicious activity,” spokesperson, CyberPeace Foundation added.


 


Trends noticed by the research


Like any other critical infrastructure worldwide, Indian critical infrastructure is also vulnerable to cyber attacks involving state & non-state actors. The SCADA Critical Information Infrastructure (CII) threat intelligence sensors network simulating the Petroleum and refinery industry deployed by the CyberPeace Foundation, Autobot Infosec Private Ltd. with the CyberPeace Center of Excellence (CCoE) partners have seen a surge in the number of cyberattacks with 359,989 hits between October 2021 to April 12th 2022.


 


Being Specific,


In October 2021: 117633 hits


In November 2021: 55871 hits


In December 2021: 20714 hits


In January 2022: 52598 hits


In February 2022: 19342 hits


In March 2022: 69998 hits


In April 2022 (Till 12th): 23833 hits


 


The Mostly attacked protocols were FTP, HTTP, s7comm, Modbus, SNMP, BACnet.


 


In addition, there is an increase in the number of phishing/social engineering attacks on Indian organizations in the petroleum or refinery business, as is illustrated in the following case. 


 


Recently, news has been making the rounds on the internet that Oil India Limited’s field headquarters in Assam’s Dibrugarh faced a Cyberattack with the injected malwareon their systems, asking for USD 75,00,000 as a ransom.


 






WhatsApp message containing fake url


 


In addition to this, the CPF spokesperson has also drawn attention to WhatsApp messages masquerading as an offer from Indian Oil with links luring unsuspecting users with the promise of Indian Oil fuel subsidy presents making the rounds on the app recently. If you receive such messages, try to avoid them, as they can be a scam.


 


A similar study has been conducted by the Research Teams, based on a WhatsApp campaign that contained a link pretending to be a gift offer from Indian Oil that asks users to participate in a survey and get a chance to win USD 2000.


 






Fake Congratulatory message


 


Warning Signs of the Campaign:


  • The campaign is pretended to be an offer from Indian Oil Corporation but is hosted on the party third-party domain instead of the official Indian Oil Corporation website, which makes it more suspicious.


  • The domain name associated with the campaign has been registered in recent times.


  • Multiple redirections have been noticed between the links.


  • No reputed site would ask its users to share the campaign on WhatsApp.


  • The prize is kept attractive to lure the laypeople.


  • Grammatical mistakes have been noticed.


  • During the analysis, the research team found that a javascript code called hm.js was being executed in the background from the host hm(.)baidu(.)com, a Baidu subdomain and is used for Baidu Analytics, also known as Baidu Tongji. The important part is that Baidu is a Chinese multinational technology company specializing in Internet-related services, products, and artificial intelligence, headquartered in Beijing’s Haidian district, China.


 


The Advisory:


  • Do not expose critical services unnecessarily to the internet.


  • Network firewalls should always be patched with the latest security updates.


  • Isolate the SCADA/ICS network from the public network.


  • Periodically perform technical audits of Critical Infrastructuredevices and networks and any other webor end-points directly or indirectly connected to it to identify security concerns.


  • Run CyberAwareness Drive by Cyber Experts at regular intervals for the team.


  • Develop an R&D lab to enhance CyberSecurity skills among the employees


  • Maintain firmPassword Policy:


  • Use a strong password for all devices and online accounts.


  • Passwords should be at least 8-13 characters long.


  • Passwords should contain at least one upper case (A-Z), numeric character (0-9), and a special character (@&, etc.).


  • Do not use the same password for all your online accounts. All the passwords should be different for different versions.


  • Try avoiding a password that consists of dictionary words.


 


  • Stay away from Phishing links: Phishing is an attempt of social engineering techniques to inject malware or obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card information by spreading fake links and pretending to pretending to be acting a trustworthy entity. Please donot click on such links before verifying the authenticity of the same.


  • Never share or forward fake messages containing links to any social platform without proper verification.


 

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