Global POS botnet attack hits Canada

Retailers’ point-of-sale (POS) systems seem to be one of the soft targets for cybercriminals looking to steal payment and credit card information from unsuspecting users.

A huge global botnet, discovered last week, affected some 1500 point-of-sale terminals, accounting systems and other retail platform belonging to businesses in 36 countries, including Canada.

The huge botnet of infected systems was discovered by IntelCrawler, a cyber threat intelligence firm based in Los Angeles, California. IntelCrawler first detected the botnet, which it dubbed “Nemanja,” in March. It says the culprits may be Serbian.

As reported in Network World, the size of the botnet and the geographical spread of the incidents highlights the nature of the threats the retail sector faces, especially after a number of recent PoS breaches affected U.S. retailers.

“Past incidents showed high attention from modern cybercriminality to retailers and small business segments having Point-of-Sale terminals,” IntelCrawler said in its blog post about the botnet. “We predict an increasing number of new data breaches in both sectors in the next few years, as well as the appearance of new types of specific malicious code targeted at retailers’ backoffice systems and cash registers.”

IntelCrawler identified 25 different POS, grocery store management and accounting programs running on the affected systems. While the malware was able to collect credit card data, it also performed keylogging to gather credentials that could be used to access other systems with payment and personal data.

“The nature of POS-related crimes can be different from country to country, but it shows the insecurity of modern payment environments,” IntelCrawler says. “The bad actors combine several attack vectors in order to infect operators’ stations – ‘drive-by-download’ and remote administration channels hacking.

Card associations should expect a trend of POS infections in developing countries in the near future, because of high significant lag in information security of retailers.”

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Andrew Brooks
Andrew Brooks
Andrew Brooks is managing editor of IT World Canada. He has been a technology journalist and editor for 20 years, including stints at Technology in Government, Computing Canada and other publications.

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