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Cyber threat to the Italian Ministry of Defense: critical access for sale on underground forums

Risks and implications of selling compromised access in cybercrime

An Initial Access Broker has offered RCE access for sale to the Italian Ministry of Defense's "Difesa IT" website. IABs sell access to cybercriminals, who use them for attacks such as ransomware. Cyber threat intelligence is essential to prevent these threats.

This pill is also available in Italian language

On a well-known underground forum, an Initial Access Broker recently put up for sale vital access to the "Difesa IT" site, which represents the official portal of the Italian Ministry of Defense. This access includes a Remote Code Execution (RCE) vulnerability, one of the most dangerous in the cybersecurity field, capable of allowing an attacker to execute arbitrary code remotely, with the risk of gaining complete control of the compromised system. Negotiations for this access take place through direct contact on Telegram with the broker, a method which increases anonymity and the difficulty of tracing these illegal operations. At the moment, there is no official confirmation regarding the veracity of this information, as no specific press release has been issued. However, if the sale actually turns out to be real, it would represent a serious threat to national security.

Who are Initial Access Brokers (IABs)?

Initial Access Brokers (IABs) are figures in today's cybercrime landscape. These actors, individuals or groups, specialize in initially infiltrating corporate or government networks, using phishing techniques, zero-day vulnerability exploitation, or other technologically advanced methods to gain privileged access to targeted systems. Once access is gained, IABs sell it to third parties, which may include ransomware groups, industrial spies, or other malicious actors. Their activity represents the base of the cybercrime pyramid, acting as unauthorized "penetration testers". They identify and exploit security flaws and then sell the access obtained to those interested in using them for illicit purposes, making the cybersecurity market increasingly complex and dangerous.

The crucial role of IABs in the ransomware phenomenon

In recent years, the ransomware phenomenon has seen exponential growth, and IABs are a key component. Ransomware groups purchase access from these brokers, avoiding the need to manually infiltrate target networks. This business model has made ransomware extortion extremely efficient and profitable. Access sold can range from administrator credentials, Remote Code Execution vulnerabilities, to more general resources such as unsecured VPNs and RDPs. Once access is gained, criminals encrypt the company's data and demand a ransom for decryption, potentially causing millions of euros in damages.

The role of cyber threat intelligence in defense

To combat these threats, cyber threat intelligence (CTI) is vital. This field is dedicated to collecting and analyzing information on the activities of cybercriminals, to prevent and mitigate attacks. CTI provides companies with detailed insight into potential threats and vulnerabilities in their systems. One of the essential tasks of the CTI is the ability to quickly identify threats before they are exploited by attackers, by monitoring underground forums and communication channels used by criminals. For example, the CTI could detect the sale of compromised logins on a forum and take immediate measures to isolate and remediate the vulnerability. Prevention is key to protecting businesses, critical infrastructure and sensitive data nationwide.

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06/12/2024 08:23

Marco Verro

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