The company responsible for routing your SMS messages has been hacked

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Hackers managed to break into Syniverse, a relatively unknown company that provides backbone services to major wireless carriers around the world, in a campaign that could have impacted millions of cellphone users (opens in new tab), reports suggest.

According to Motherboard, Syniverse forms a critical part of the global telecommunications infrastructure, and counts the likes of AT&T (opens in new tab), Verizon (opens in new tab), Vodafone (opens in new tab), T-Mobile (opens in new tab), among its customers.

In a filing (opens in new tab) with the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company disclosed that threat actors managed to gain “unauthorized access to databases within its network on several occasions, and that login information allowing access to or from its Electronic Data Transfer (EDT) environment was compromised for approximately 235 of its customers.”

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The incident, which was detected in May 2021, but dates back to May 2016, is discussed in the section where it talks about the risks associated with the company owing to the nature of its business. 

Global privacy disaster?

Syniverse hasn’t discussed the incident outside of the SEC filing, and didn’t respond to Motherboard’s questions about the scope and scale of the breach. 

However a former Syniverse employee disclosed that EDT systems have information on all types of call records. Another anonymous individual familiar with telephone carriers suggests that the Syniverse hackers could have had access to metadata such as length and cost, caller and receiver's numbers, the location of the parties in the call, as well as the content of SMS text messages.

"Syniverse has access to the communication of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people around the world. A five-year breach of one of Syniverse's main systems is a global privacy disaster," security researcher Karsten Nohl told Motherboard.

However, the former Syniverse employee suggests the breach is probably more embarrassing than devastating since nothing untoward seems to have come out of it in over five years.

“Not saying nothing bad happened but it sounds like nothing did happen,” opines the former employees.

Via Motherboard (opens in new tab)

Mayank Sharma

With almost two decades of writing and reporting on Linux, Mayank Sharma would like everyone to think he’s TechRadar Pro’s expert on the topic. Of course, he’s just as interested in other computing topics, particularly cybersecurity, cloud, containers, and coding.