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HomeWorldwideFortinet Flaw Exploited: Hackers Target Businesses with ScreenConnect, Metasploit

Fortinet Flaw Exploited: Hackers Target Businesses with ScreenConnect, Metasploit


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Cybersecurity researchers have uncovered a new campaign exploiting a recently disclosed vulnerability in Fortinet FortiClient EMS devices. This malicious campaign leverages the flaw (CVE-2023-48788) to deploy ScreenConnect and Metasploit payloads, potentially granting attackers remote access to compromised systems.

Let’s dissect the details of this attack, the vulnerabilities involved, and explore best practices to safeguard your organization from such threats.

The Achilles’ Heel: Fortinet Flaw Targeted

The vulnerability at the heart of this campaign is a critical SQL injection flaw (CVE-2023-48788) in Fortinet FortiClient EMS devices. This flaw allows an unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary code or commands on vulnerable systems if successfully exploited. A proof-of-concept exploit for this vulnerability was publicly released in late March 2024, raising concerns about potential widespread exploitation attempts.

Attack Sequence: From Flaw to Full Access

Security researchers at Forescout, who are tracking this campaign under the codename “Connect:fun,” observed attackers targeting an unnamed media company with a vulnerable FortiClient EMS device. Here’s a breakdown of the attack sequence:

  1. Exploiting the Flaw: Attackers leveraged the CVE-2023-48788 vulnerability to gain initial access to the vulnerable FortiClient EMS device.
  2. ScreenConnect Deployment: The attackers attempted to download and install ScreenConnect, a legitimate remote desktop software, potentially to gain remote access and establish persistence within the network.
  3. Metasploit Payload Delivery: While the ScreenConnect installation attempt wasn’t successful, the attackers also attempted to deploy a Metasploit payload, a powerful hacking framework that can be used for various malicious purposes.

Fortinet’s Response and Patch Availability

Fortinet promptly issued a security advisory and patch (FortiClient EMS 6.4.6) to address the CVE-2023-48788 vulnerability. Organizations using Fortinet FortiClient EMS devices are urged to update their systems with the latest patch immediately.

10 Measures to Fortify Your Organization’s Defenses

While this specific attack campaign seems to be in its early stages, here are 10 crucial measures organizations can take to minimize the risk of falling victim to similar attacks:

  1. Patch Management: Prioritize timely patching of vulnerabilities in all software and systems within your network.
  2. Segmentation: Implement network segmentation to isolate critical systems and minimize the potential damage from a breach.
  3. Endpoint Security Solutions: Deploy robust endpoint security solutions that can detect and prevent malware and unauthorized access attempts.
  4. Strong Passwords and MFA: Enforce strong password policies and implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible.
  5. Employee Training: Regularly train employees on cybersecurity best practices, including phishing awareness and social engineering tactics.
  6. External Penetration Testing: Conduct regular penetration testing to identify and address security weaknesses in your systems.
  7. Incident Response Plan: Develop a comprehensive incident response plan to expedite recovery and minimize damage in case of a cyberattack.
  8. Security Awareness Culture: Foster a culture of security awareness within your organization, encouraging employees to report suspicious activity.
  9. Monitor Security News: Stay updated on emerging cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities.
  10. Backup Regularly: Maintain regular backups of critical data to facilitate swift recovery in case of a cyberattack.


The recent attack campaign exploiting the Fortinet flaw highlights the importance of proactive cybersecurity measures. By prioritizing patching, implementing robust security solutions, and educating employees, organizations can significantly reduce their risk of falling victim to cyberattacks. As cyber threats evolve, staying vigilant and maintaining a strong security posture are essential for protecting your organization’s data and assets.

Ouaissou DEMBELE
Ouaissou DEMBELEhttps://cybercory.com
Ouaissou DEMBELE is an accomplished cybersecurity professional and the Editor-In-Chief of cybercory.com. He has over 10 years of experience in the field, with a particular focus on Ethical Hacking, Data Security & GRC. Currently, Ouaissou serves as the Co-founder & Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Saintynet, a leading provider of IT solutions and services. In this role, he is responsible for managing the company's cybersecurity strategy, ensuring compliance with relevant regulations, and identifying and mitigating potential threats, as well as helping the company customers for better & long term cybersecurity strategy. Prior to his work at Saintynet, Ouaissou held various positions in the IT industry, including as a consultant. He has also served as a speaker and trainer at industry conferences and events, sharing his expertise and insights with fellow professionals. Ouaissou holds a number of certifications in cybersecurity, including the Cisco Certified Network Professional - Security (CCNP Security) and the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), ITIL. With his wealth of experience and knowledge, Ouaissou is a valuable member of the cybercory team and a trusted advisor to clients seeking to enhance their cybersecurity posture.


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