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August 28th, 2014

Bad news for SMBs: Target’s “Backoff” malware attack hits 1,000 more businesses

PoS attacks

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U.S. merchants advised to protect themselves against same PoS hack that hit Target and Neiman Marcus last year.

More than 1,000 U.S. businesses have had their systems infected by Backoff, a point-of-sale (PoS) malware that was linked to the remote-access attacks against Target, Michaels, and P.F. Chang’s last year and more recently, UPS and Dairy Queen. In the Target breach alone, 40 million credit and debit cards were stolen, along with 70 million records which included the name, address, email address, and phone number of Target shoppers.

The way these breaches occur is laid out in BACKOFF: New Point of Sale Malware, a new U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report. Investigations reveal that cybercrooks use readily available tools to identify businesses that use remote desktop applications which allow a user to connect to a computer from a remote location. The Target breach began with stolen login credentials from the air-conditioning repairman.

Once the business is identified, the hackers use brute force to break into the login feature of the remote desktop solution. After gaining access to administrator or privileged access accounts, the cybercrooks are then able to deploy the PoS malware and steal consumer payment data. If that’s not enough, most versions of Backoff have keylogging functionality and can also upload discovered data, update the malware, download/execute further malware, and uninstall the malware.

General steps SMBs and consumers can take to protect themselves

  • You should use a proper security solution, like avast! Endpoint Protection, to protect your network from hacking tools, malicious modules, and from hackers using exploits as a gateway to insert malware into your network.
  • Regularly monitor your bank and credit card statements to make sure all the transactions are legitimate.
  • Change default and staff passwords controlling access to key payment systems and applications. Our blog post, Do you hate updating your passwords whenever there’s a new hack?, has some tips.
  • Monitor your credit report for any changes. You’re entitled to one free report per year from each of the three reporting agencies.

Read more…

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July 23rd, 2014

Should small and medium-sized businesses be worried about PoS attacks?

Customers are vulnerable at the moment of purchase.

Most U.S. merchants cannot detect fraud at the point of sale.

One of the most dangerous places in America is your local retailer. Before you leave the building with your purchases, you run the risk of having your identity stolen.

No doubt you recall the 2013 security breaches at Target, Michael’s, and Neiman Marcus where millions of records were compromised by Point-of-Sale (PoS) attacks. PoS occurs when the customer makes a payment to the merchant. That last exchange is the most vulnerable.

Large retail merchants lead the list by 50% of organizations where consumers’ data was compromised in 2013, followed by credit card issuers and consumer banks, according to the #DataInsecurity Report done by the National Consumers League, in cooperation with Javelin Strategy & Research. The #DataInsecurity Report also revealed that 61% of data breach victims reported the breached information was used to commit fraud against them.

This should not come as a surprise. According to the Nilson Report, approximately $4 trillion dollars was paid with credit, debit, and prepaid cards in the U.S. last year. Add to that the ready availability of code to execute PoS attacks available on underground forums and you have the perfect storm of a large victim pool for cybercriminals. The U.S. is an easy target since EMV cards (cards with chips embedded) have not been widely adopted. EMV, conceived between Europay, MasterCard and Visa, is a standard securing payments in other countries.

Cybercriminals don’t care about the size of your business

U.S. banks are slow to upgrade to "Smart cards" with embedded chips

U.S. banks are slow to upgrade to “Smart cards” with embedded chips.

Although most of the PoS attacks highlighted in the media were against large retailers, cybercrooks don’t care how large or small your business is. You would think they would, but cybercriminals are more interested in raking in the money rather than caring about the fame they could possibly receive from attacking a large and popular business. Regardless of its size, if your business has a PoS system to charge customers for products or services, you should be protecting your system to save yourself from a possible attack. PoS attacks not only steal valuable customer information, they can damage your business’s reputation.

The #DataInsecurity Report shows that only 10% of retail fraud victims are confident that retailers can protect their information in the future.

How PoS attacks work

The biggest PoS Trojans, like Dexter, BlackPOS, Minerva, and vSkimmer, have targeted systems and networks running Windows. Read more…