Wholesale Access Markets and Ransomware

Major ransomware attacks can start with endpoint access purchased for $10 by bad actors on underground markets.

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The first stage of an active cyberattack is initial access, which establishes an “initial foothold within a network.” This step is difficult to perform, and therefore many aspiring attackers can purchase network access from threat actors with specialized skills.

There are two broad categories of access-as-a-service for sale on the underground, initial access brokers (IAB), which auction access to companies for hundreds to thousands of dollars, and wholesale access markets (WAM), which sell access to compromised endpoints for around $10.

WAMs are flea markets. The prices are low, the inventory is enormous (they listed access to ~4.3 million endpoints in 2021), and the quality is not guaranteed, as listings could belong to a random individual user or an enterprise endpoint.

In our research, we realized there is a way to attribute a WAM listing to an enterprise based on analyzing SaaS logins in the listing. Meaning, that WAM posts list resources to which the compromised endpoint is logged in. For-sale systems that are logged into enterprise software (Slack or Jira, for example) presumably belong to an enterprise, whose name is often mentioned in the URL. Download the full report to learn more.

Wholesale access markets

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