Vice Society ransomware gang adds the Italian City of Palermo to its data leak site

Pierluigi Paganini June 10, 2022

The Vice Society group has claimed responsibility for the ransomware attack that hit the Italian city of Palermo forcing the IT admins to shut down its infrastructure.

The Vice Society ransomware group has claimed responsibility for the recent cyber attack that hit the city of Palermo in the South of Italy. In response to the security breach, the IT infrastructure of the city was shut down.

The attack took place on June 02 and the outage caused severe problems to the citizens.

Sispi (Palermo Innovazione System), which is the municipal company that is responsible for the technical management of the municipal IT and telematic system of the Municipality of Palermo, confirmed the ransomware attack a few days later, but at this time it doesn’t confirm the data breach.

The attack impacted the municipal police, surveillance cameras and ZTL traffic control systems, the authorities confirmed that the problems can last for days. Municipal Administration announced that demographic services are guaranteed.

“With reference to the serious hacker attack suffered in recent days on the technological infrastructures of the Municipality of Palermo, a series of activities have been put in place to contain the ransomware attack.” reads a statement issued by the Municipal Administration. “An order of priority was then drawn up for the reactivation of the services and platforms that are ordinarily managed through the information systems. In particular, despite the seriousness of the cyber attack, priority was given in a timely manner to the services connected with the forthcoming electoral round. The offices, with the support of Sispi technicians, promptly restored all demographic services. Thanks to a task force, the Demos platform was reactivated – for the issue of electoral cards – the Sipal platform was made available for the collection of data to be communicated to the Ministry of the Interior, the platform for the so-called settlement to the polling stations necessary for the collection of data relating to presidents and tellers, finally the IT Protocol is again available.”

While the City of Palermo is still investigating the incident with the help of the local authorities, the ransomware gang Vice Society claimed responsibility for the attack and added the name of the city to its dark web leak site.

City of Palermo

The Vice Society ransomware gang claimed to have stolen data from the City of Palermo and is threatening to publish them by Sunday if a ransom is not paid. At this time it is not clear which data the ransomware gang has stolen, Vice Society has yet to publish any sample of this data.

Vice Society ransomware has been active since June 2021, it is considered by researchers a spin-off of the HelloKitty ransomware, the malware targets both Windows and Linux systems primarily belonging to small or midsize victims.

This group focuses on public school districts and other educational institutions, like other ransomware gangs it implements a double extortion model and publishes data stolen from the victims on a data leak site.

Threatening the victim with the publication of data is standard practice for ransomware groups today, called the “double extortion” tactic, and can be a powerful way to extort victims.

Vice Society might hold the personally identifiable information of Palermo’s residents and the sensitive details of anyone who has used the municipality’s digital services.

The ransomware gang use to compromise target networks by exploiting known vulnerabilities, in August 2021 researchers from Talos observed the group exploiting Windows print spooler PrintNightmare exploits in its attacks.

The investigation into the ransomware attack against the City of Palerm is still ongoing, at this time the municipality or Sispi haven’t shared details about the attack.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, City of Palermo)

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