Researchers at Imperva have discovered administrative access to numerous military, government and education Websites being advertised on an underground hacker forum.
The owners of the sites have all been notified of the situation, Imperva told eWEEK. Among them are sites belonging to the Department of Defense PharmacoEconomic Center, the University of South Carolina Beaufort and the state of Utah. In some cases, full administrative access to the sites was offered; in others, it was access to databases.
The price of the information varied. Administrative access for the Utah site was $99, while access to the United States Army's CECOM (Communications Electronic Command) site was $499. In addition, e-mail addresses from the hacked sites were also for sale.
"The underground e-market for data is, ironically enough, a free market," said Tal Be'ery, Web Security Research team lead at Imperva's Application Defense Center.
"In this case, for example, we see that most hijacked U.S. sites cost more than non-U.S. hijacked sites, while military sites within the U.S. gained a higher price than .edu and .gov sites," Be'ery added.
So far, little is known about who is behind the attacks. The only information Imperva has is what was in a forum posting-an attacker with the username "@evil" that issues attack commands, and an exploiter named "x0wner" that performed those issued commands and returned their results.
Most of the sites appear to have been compromised via SQL injection, Be'ery told eWEEK. Most likely, the vulnerabilities were found and exploited in an automated manner, using scanners, for example, he said.
"Automating attacks is most common within cyber-criminals in order to achieve a quick and high volume effect," the researcher added. "Our findings are from the past couple of days, and we have not seen them for sale previously. That being said, we cannot know how long the Websites have been vulnerable prior to the posting."