What Is an Initial Access Broker?
How Initial Access Brokers Operate
IABs are skilled at exploiting common hacking techniques to gain unauthorized access to networks, leveraging social engineering attacks, brute force attacks, and other attack vectors. The asking price for IAB services depends on factors such as the size and type of the target and the type of access offered. By selling access instead of carrying out attacks themselves, IABs mitigate the risks associated with executing a ransomware attack, focusing instead on breaching networks and capitalizing on their expertise.
IABs primarily operate on dark web forums and underground markets and can function as individual actors or as part of larger organizations like ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) gangs. Their clientele consists of groups with malicious intent who leverage the purchased access to launch ransomware attacks, execute data breaches, and engage in other malicious activities—typically for financial gain.
What Initial Access Brokers Sell
Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)
Web Shell Attack
Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM)
Dangers of Initial Access Brokers
IABs pose a significant risk to network security as they perpetuate the rise of cyber threats, such as malware and ransomware attacks. By assisting threat actors that lack the technical expertise or resources to hack into systems independently, IABs streamline cyberattacks.
IABs also benefit RaaS gangs by reducing their workload and accelerating their services. As partnerships between IABs and RaaS gangs grow, both parties gain access to stronger skillsets, clientele, and power. RaaS gangs continue to receive financial compensation while other threat actors are provided with the tools needed to extort organizations and capitalize on cyberattacks.
Well-known RaaS gangs such as LockBit and Conti ransomware have contributed to the rise of ransomware attacks—a detrimental trend that leaves organizations vulnerable to the theft of sensitive data and financial information.