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Hackers allegedly compromise Chinese-made modems provided by Vietnam telco

Dozens of customers flocked the office of a leading telecom firm in the southern province of Binh Duong on Friday to complain they were unable to access the Internet using the digital subscriber line (DSL) modems provided by the telco.

Dozens of customers flocked the office of a leading telecom firm in the southern province of Binh Duong on Friday to complain they were unable to access the Internet using the digital subscriber line (DSL) modems provided by the telco.
Dozens of customers flocked the office of a leading telecom firm in the southern province of Binh Duong on Friday to complain they were unable to access the Internet using the digital subscriber line (DSL) modems provided by the telco.

Besides the disconnected Internet access, the configurations of the WiFi networks of these customers were also altered and the networks were renamed “China hacker,” the victims told VnExpress  newspaper at the Binh Duong branch of FPT, a Hanoi-based telecom giant.

A DSL modem is a device used to connect a computer or router to a telephone line which provides the digital subscriber line service for connectivity to the Internet, which is often called DSL broadband.

FPT Binh Duong customers began experiencing the problem two weeks ago but the largest number of complainers were recorded on Friday. Some said their modems were compromised thrice last week.

The modems, whose labels say they were made in China, are given to customers whenever they register to use Internet packages offered by FPT.

Tran Van An, of the provincial capital city of Thu Dau Mot, said he has been using FPT Internet services for seven months, with the WiFi modem included in the VND1 million (US$47) package.

“I was unable to get connected to the Internet at around 10:00 am on Friday, and realized that my WiFi network had been renamed,” An said.

“My modem has an FPT logo and the text ‘made in China’ on its back.”

Lam Khanh Phuong, deputy director of FPT Binh Duong, attributed the incident to “a type of virus.”

The malicious software attacked the modem, changed its password, configurations, and WiFi name to disrupt connections, Phuong elaborated.

But it is unclear who is behind the attack, he admitted.

Phuong said all FPT modems are imports, adding statistics on how many subscribers have been affected are not immediately available.

It only took FPT technicians three to five minutes to fix the error for customers who brought their modems to the telco office, but some subscribers had to wait for a day as there were not enough personnel for the task, according to the deputy director.

“FPT will disable the function that allows outsiders to log in the modems, so only the real owners of the devices are able to change their password or configurations,” Phuong said.