The existence of Signaling System 7 (SS7) mobile telephony protocol vulnerabilities is something security researchers warned about in 2016, and it only took a year before the first attacks exploiting them were observed.
Apart from SMS, the SS7 security gaps can be exploited to intercept or forward calls, 2FA codes, locate devices, spoof SMS, and more.
But are these hacking services as abundant as rumored, or is the dark web full of scammers that are merely waiting to snatch the money of aspiring spies?
An investigation on availability
Analysts at SOS Intelligence have searched the dark web for providers of SS7 exploitation services and found 84 unique onion domains claiming to offer them.
After narrowing down the results to those that appeared to be still active, they ended up with only the following four:
- SS7 Operate
- SS7 ONLINE Operate
- SS7 Hack
- Dark Fox Market
All four claim to offer SMS interception and spoofing, location tracking, and call interception and redirection.
By analyzing the network topology data for these sites, the researchers found that some of them were relatively isolated, not having many inbound links.
This is not a good indication of the reliability and credibility of the site and is typically an indication of recently set-up scamming platforms.
Moreover, the SS7 Hack site appears copied from a clearnet website created in 2021, so it looks like a scam.
Upon trying to use its SS7 exploit kit, hoping for the implementation of an API mirroring function, the researchers got nothing as the service was offline.
On the Dark Fox Market platform, which charges $180 for each targeted phone number, researchers found the same demo videos uploaded by Russian users on YouTube in 2016.
These were most likely stolen from YouTube and had no relevance to the Dark Fox Market platform, which offers no working SS7 exploitation service anyway.
Despite all that, by analyzing the provided cryptocurrency wallets of these platforms, SOS Intelligence found that the scammers are making significant amounts of money.
Real SS7 exploit services hidden
The above doesn’t mean that there are no SS7 exploitation services on the dark web, but rather that the real ones are hidden behind membership-only hacking forums and marketplaces such as World Market.
As is usually the case on the dark web, the first search results that one can find on the “surface” typically lead to scams.
One would have to dig deeper to get the real deal, but this never eliminates the chances of still landing on the receiving end of a scam.
Sophisticated threat actors have access to cellphone data through affiliations or their own operations, so they don’t need to search for providers of SS7 exploit services.