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WhatsApp/Telegram Group Members Of Housing Societies – Beware! Hackers Are Looking For Your Details

Deciphering the famous saying “User Data is New Oil” and “Users of Free Digital Products are being used as “Product” themselves by the OEMs or Service Providers”

Almost everyone might have observed, we get precise & laser focus advertisements on the very micro level on our Phones through SMS & Whatsapp, or similar apps. This has gained further prominence during recent pandemics. Typical examples: Get Home cooked food, Medicines, vegetables, liquor, tuitions delivered, etc.

All product/services companies have shifted their operation on digital platforms & they always look for the precise & authenticated User Data for their business on a micro geographical level. E.g, how many residents are there in a particular society or apartments & what are their interest & preference etc. These details help them in sending the direct campaign. To device their campaign, the basic requirement is of User Data Acquisition, Running analytics & device precise campaign. This is typically known as “Closed Loop Marketing”

Lately, a new method of data acquisition from Housing/Apartment Societies has surfaced.

Nowadays all the members of these societies are part of some or other Whatsapp/Telegram Channels. If any member/s among these groups complies with the list of complete Member Mobile numbers & sells it to the Digital Marketing companies, he/she can make cool money. As per our intelligence report, typically set of “255 Numbers” shall fetch approx. Rs.500-Rs.5000, depending on the Resident or housing societies profile & size. E.g Upscale Society numbers sell at a premium. This is the precise reason we get following types of SMS/messages

  • Sell/rent house,
  • Hire tutors
  • Grocery/Liquor deliveries in 45 mins
  • Sale/Discounts in nearby Shops/Malls
  • Car Cleaning Packages

Modus Operandi:

Typically, a person joins these groups either by personal reference of residing members or renting a flat/house for a short period of stay, which makes him/her eligible to access these communication groups. Once they are in the group with a very basic technical knowledge they would fetch & compile the data in the following format.

Actual Numbers have been masked to conceal the identity

Consequences:

The is alarming for our Digital Privacy, as our number contains so much of the information. Till the time it’s being used for marketing purposes, still OK, but what happens if these numbers get in the hand of Cyber Fraudsters/Criminals, etc? They can attack us in every possible way in terms of stealing the credentials associated with these numbers (Internet Banking/Official detail/Email Credentials) and we shall be the victim of :

  • Ransomware
  • Cyber stalking
  • Cyberbullying
  • Sextortion etc.

These are one of the main reasons, why cyber frauds have boomed in recent months.

Conclusion: We should be very selective while joining these Social Media Groups. If it all we must join these groups, we must use our main number. Housing Societies, RWA/AoA committee members who play the role of admin must ensure proper housekeeping of these groups. Typically, its observed, most of the members who have left the societies remain in these group. As a normal user we must decide the tradeoff between our Digital Privacy & exposing ourselves to these groups.

Case Study by: RED Team of Armantec, led by Shamsher Bahadur – Cyber Security Practice Head.

This Article has been Submitted by Armantec Systems Pvt Ltd (www.armantecsystems.com), a Noida Based Threat Intelligence & RED Teaming Consulting Firm, with the prime focus on custom Ransomware Attacks Solution for Critical Information Infrastructures (CIIs).

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