Old-school hacktivism is making a comeback, and it never really went away. The spotlight is now on a group known as Mysterious Team Bangladesh (MTB), responsible for a staggering 846 attacks since June 2022, primarily focusing on Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
Hacktivism seemed to wane in 2019, with only seven active hacktivist groups being tracked compared to 28 in 2016.
Cybersecurity firm Group-IB has been closely tracking MTB and has discovered that the group first emerged in 2020 but only gained significant momentum in mid-2022.
Most of its attacks occurred between February and May 2023, making it highly active and notorious.
Group-IB suggests that the decline might have been due to decreased media coverage and social media discussions around hacktivist cyberattacks. However, hacktivism tends to resurge during periods of geopolitical conflicts or tensions.
Politics Driven Motives
MTB’s motives are driven by religious and political reasons, as indicated by its Blogspot-redirected website. It claims to protect Bangladesh’s cyberspace and remove “adult and atheist content” from social media.
The group primarily targets government, financial, and transportation sectors in India and Israel. However, it has also struck other countries, including Senegal, Ethiopia, Australia, Sweden, and the Netherlands.
MTB’s preferred mode of attack is DDoS, accounting for 84 percent of its assaults, while website defacement makes up 9 percent and database access a mere 2.6 percent.
Notably, MTB operates in a cyclical pattern. It identifies a news event that provides a target in a specific country and attacks that country for a brief period. Then it reverts to its primary targets, India and Israel.
The group’s attacks on India relate to alleged abuses against the Muslim prophet Muhammad, while attacks on Israel are in response to actions against Palestinian people.
The Open Challenge
MTB has been far from secretive about its activities. The group maintains a strong online presence through various social media platforms. They include Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, Telegram, and, surprisingly, Pinterest.
The group also appears to align itself with the infamous hacker collective Anonymous. While it shares Anonymous’s tagline and retweets groups claiming to be part of the collective, MTB doesn’t use its branding, such as the recognizable Guy Fawkes mask.
Unlike cybercriminals or nation-state actors who aim to remain unnoticed, hacktivist groups like MTB actively strive to draw attention to their activities.
Cybersecurity experts at Group-IB believe that MTB’s operations will continue to grow in 2023. They anticipate intensified attacks in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East, focusing on financial companies and government entities.
As hacktivism gains momentum again, it serves as a reminder that hacktivists seek attention for their political or religious causes. The return of old-school hacktivism, exemplified by MTB, underscores the need for increased vigilance in the cybersecurity landscape.
As these groups continue to evolve and adapt their tactics, organizations, and governments must stay ahead of the curve to protect themselves from the potential fallout of hacktivist campaigns.
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