News

Retailers warned on methods used by Target hackers

Retailers warned on methods used by Target hackers

HACK ATTACK: The attack on Target Corp could be the largest such data breach in U.S. history. Photo: Associated Press

By Jim Finkle

BOSTON (Reuters) – The cyber security firm IntelCrawler said on Friday it has uncovered at least six ongoing attacks at merchants across the United States whose credit card processing systems are infected with the same type of malicious software used to steal data from some 40 million credit cards at Target Inc.

Andrew Komarov, the firm’s chief executive, told Reuters that his firm has alerted law enforcement, Visa Inc and intelligence teams at several large banks about the findings.

The report from IntelCrawler is the latest evidence to suggest that disclosures from Target Inc and upscale department store Neiman Marcus about cyber attacks that resulted in the theft of payment cards and other customer data may only be the tip of the iceberg.

Komarov said that retailers in California and New York were among those compromised with BlackPOS, the same malicious software used in the attack on Target. Their names could not immediately be confirmed.

A Visa spokeswoman said she could not immediately comment.

The U.S. government provided merchants with information gleaned from its confidential investigation into the massive data breach at Target Corp, in a move aimed at identifying and thwarting similar attacks that may be ongoing.

The report titled “Indicators for Network Defenders” brings to light some of the first information gleaned from the government’s highly secretive probes into the Target breach and other retail hacks, including details useful for detecting malicious programs that elude anti-virus software.

“It’s a shame this report wasn’t released a month ago,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer of the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike. “It has been frustrating for some retailers because it has been incredibly difficult for most firms to get information. It has not been forthcoming.”

No. 3 U.S. retailer Target disclosed the theft of some 40 million payment card numbers and the personal data of 70 million customers in a cyber attack that occurred over the holiday shopping season. Neiman Marcus last week said that it too was victim of a cyber attack, and sources have told Reuters that at least three other well-known national retailers have been attacked..

The document noted that an underground market for malicious software to attack point-of-sale, or POS, terminals has flourished in recent years. Three of the most popular titles for the malicious software include BlackPOS, Dexter and vSkimmer.

“We believe there is a strong market for the development of POS malware, and evidence suggests there is a growing demand,” the report, obtained by Reuters, warned.

The Secret Service, which is heading up the investigations into the cyber attacks, has declined to comment on what it has learned or identify victims besides Target and Neiman Marcus.

ARMED WITH INFORMATION

John Watters, chief executive of the security intelligence firm iSIGHT Partners, which helped draft the document released on Thursday, said that the government decided to provide information to retailers so they can determine whether their systems have been compromised by hackers.

“The point of getting the technical artifacts out there is that people can go out there and examine their systems and see if they have been compromised,” said Watters, whose firm has helped the Secret Service in its investigations of retail breaches. “Now they are armed with information and they can go do something about it.”

A Department of Homeland Security official said the report was drafted to provide the industry “with relevant and actionable technical indicators for network defense.”

The document said that an advanced piece of software dubbed the POSRAM Trojan, was used in the recent attacks.

POSRAM is an type of RAM scraper, or memory-parsing software, which enables cyber criminals to grab encrypted data by capturing it when it travels through the live memory of a computer, where it appears in plain text.

While the technology has been around for many years, its use has increased in recent years as retailers have improved their security, making it more difficult for hackers to obtain credit card data using other approaches.

POSRAM succeeded in evading detection by anti-virus software when it infected the Windows-based point-of-sales terminals, according to the report.

“This report was generated so that we could get it into the hands of commercial entities so that they had information they needed to protect themselves,” iSIGHT Partners Senior Vice President Tiffany Jones told Reuters.

The document was prepared by the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, the U.S. Secret Service, iSIGHT Partners and the Financial Sector Information Sharing and Analysis Center, an industry security group.

Alperovitch of CrowdStrike said that the report contained fewer technical details than an article published on Wednesday by security blogger Brian Krebs.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing Richard Valdmanis, Bernard Orr)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

Only arguing remains in Sterling trail

Fresh
FILE - In this Nov. 12, 2010, file photo, Shelly Sterling sits with her husband, Donald Sterling, right, during the Los Angeles Clippers' NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons in Los Angeles. With a $2 billion sale of the Clippers hanging in the balance, a judge is set to determine Monday, June 30, 2014, if the terms of a family trust alone are enough to confirm Donald Sterling was properly removed as trustee and allow his estranged wife to sell the team without his consent.

Only final arguments and a ruling remain in the trial to determine whether Donald Sterling's estranged wife can sell the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion.

in Lifestyle

Amazon offers 3D printing to customize products

A box from Amazon.com is pictured on the porch of a house in Golden, Colorado on July 28, 2008.

Amazon will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and other items.

in Lifestyle

U.S. doctor contracts Ebola in Liberia

In this 2014 photo provided by the Samaritan's Purse aid organization, Dr. Kent Brantly, left, treats an Ebola patient at the Samaritan's Purse Ebola Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia. On Saturday, July 26, 2014, the North Carolina-based aid organization said Brantly tested positive for the disease and was being treated at a hospital in Monrovia.

American doctor, Kent Brantley, has tested positive for the tropical disease Ebola.

in Lifestyle

Pope Francis renews attack on mafia

Pope Francis waves as he leads a mass at the palace of Caserta, former residences of the Royal House of Bourbon, in Caserta, southern Italy on July 26, 2014.

Pope Francis called for nature to be protected from criminal abuse during a visit in the southern Italian town of Caserta, near Naples.

in Sports

Paul McGinley pulls out of PGA Championship with injury

Paul McGinley of Ireland laughs during a news conference after being named the European Ryder Cup captain at the St. REgis in Saadiyat Islands in Abu Dhabi on January 15, 2013.

European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has pulled out of the PGA Championship with a shoulder injury.