US is Number One! In sales register hacking attacks, at least

Fraudsters love America's easy-to-hack card slurpers


Hacking attacks against sales terminals have risen by nearly a third last year, and the US is still leading the way in being insecure.

Incidents affecting sales tills and payment systems increased to 31 per cent in 2016, according to research by security firm Trustwave, while incidents affecting e-commerce environments fell to 26 per cent from 38 per cent. Incidents involving sales registers were most common in the US, thanks to its tardy adoption of EMV chip technology and a reliance on chip and signature rather than chip and PIN payment.

Half (49 per cent) of data breaches investigated by Trustwave were in North America, while 21 per cent were in Asia-Pacific, 20 per cent in Europe, Middle East and Africa, and 10 per cent in Latin America. The largest single share of incidents involved the retail industry, at 22 per cent, followed closely by the food and beverage industry, at nearly 20 per cent.

More than half of the incidents investigated by Trustwave targeted payment card data:

  • Card track (also called magnetic stripe) data, at 33 per cent of incidents, primarily came from point-of-sale environments.
  • Card-not-present (CNP) data, at 30 per cent, mostly came from e-commerce transactions.
  • Financial credentials, including account names and passwords for banks and other financial institutions, accounted for 18 per cent of incidents.

Andrew Komarov, chief intelligence officer at InfoArmor, told El Reg that his threat intelligence firm was seeing the same trend of increased payment terminal-related malfeasance.

"The number of point-of-sale breaches and network intrusion attempts against retailers is rapidly growing," Komarov said. "The US is one of the most affected geographies ... because of the scale of its retail economy with over 15 million point-of-sale terminals, and huge penetration of IT in it.

"The threat actors started to use more advanced tactics, and to focus on SaaS services and platforms, providing solutions for the point-of-sale market, which may lead to large-scale data breaches. The industry is aware about EMV, but it will take time to distribute this technology in bigger scale," he added.

The latest edition of Trustwave's Global Security Report (available here, registration required) also chronicles a disruption in the exploit marketplace. The most common exploit kits in the world – Angler, Magnitude and Nuclear – disappeared or went private in 2016, leading to a shakeup of the exploit kit market. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • World Economic Forum wants a global map of online crime
    Will cyber crimes shrug off Atlas Initiative? Objectively, yes

    RSA Conference An ambitious project spearheaded by the World Economic Forum (WEF) is working to develop a map of the cybercrime ecosystem using open source information.

    The Atlas initiative, whose contributors include Fortinet and Microsoft and other private-sector firms, involves mapping the relationships between criminal groups and their infrastructure with the end goal of helping both industry and the public sector — law enforcement and government agencies — disrupt these nefarious ecosystems.  

    This kind of visibility into the connections between the gang members can help security researchers identify vulnerabilities in the criminals' supply chain to develop better mitigation strategies and security controls for their customers. 

    Continue reading
  • Google: How we tackled this iPhone, Android spyware
    Watching people's every move and collecting their info – not on our watch, says web ads giant

    Spyware developed by Italian firm RCS Labs was used to target cellphones in Italy and Kazakhstan — in some cases with an assist from the victims' cellular network providers, according to Google's Threat Analysis Group (TAG).

    RCS Labs customers include law-enforcement agencies worldwide, according to the vendor's website. It's one of more than 30 outfits Google researchers are tracking that sell exploits or surveillance capabilities to government-backed groups. And we're told this particular spyware runs on both iOS and Android phones.

    We understand this particular campaign of espionage involving RCS's spyware was documented last week by Lookout, which dubbed the toolkit "Hermit." We're told it is potentially capable of spying on the victims' chat apps, camera and microphone, contacts book and calendars, browser, and clipboard, and beam that info back to base. It's said that Italian authorities have used this tool in tackling corruption cases, and the Kazakh government has had its hands on it, too.

    Continue reading
  • NSO claims 'more than 5' EU states use Pegasus spyware
    And it's like, what ... 12, 13,000 total targets a year max, exec says

    NSO Group told European lawmakers this week that "under 50" customers use its notorious Pegasus spyware, though these customers include "more than five" European Union member states.

    The surveillance-ware maker's General Counsel Chaim Gelfand refused to answer specific questions about the company's customers during a European Parliament committee meeting on Thursday. 

    Instead, he frequently repeated the company line that NSO exclusively sells its spyware to government agencies — not private companies or individuals — and only "for the purpose of preventing and investigating terrorism and other serious crimes."

    Continue reading
  • Interpol anti-fraud operation busts call centers behind business email scams
    1,770 premises raided, 2,000 arrested, $50m seized

    Law enforcement agencies around the world have arrested about 2,000 people and seized $50 million in a sweeping operation crackdown of social engineering and other scam operations around the globe.

    In the latest action in the ongoing "First Light", an operation Interpol has coordinated annually since 2014, law enforcement officials from 76 countries raided 1,770 call centers suspected of running fraudulent operations such as telephone and romance scams, email deception scams, and financial crimes.

    Among the 2,000 people arrested in Operation First Light 2022 were call center operators and fraudsters, and money launderers. Interpol stated that the operation also saw 4,000 bank accounts frozen and 3,000 suspects identified.

    Continue reading
  • Cloud services proving handy for cybercriminals, SANS Institute warns
    Flying horses, gonna pwn me away...

    RSA Conference Living off the land is so 2021. These days, cybercriminals are living off the cloud, according to Katie Nickels, director of intelligence for Red Canary and a SANS Certified Instructor.

    "It's not enough to pay attention to the operating systems, the endpoints, said Nickels, speaking on a SANS Institute panel about the most dangerous new attack techniques at RSA Conference. "Adversaries, a lot of their intrusions, are using cloud services of different types."  

    And yes, living off the land (or the cloud), in which intruders use legitimate software and cloud services to deploy malware or spy on corporations and other nefarious activities, isn't a new type of attack, Nickels admitted. "But what's new here is the levels to which using cloud services [for cyberattacks] has risen." 

    Continue reading
  • Microsoft seizes 41 domains tied to 'Iranian phishing ring'
    Windows giant gets court order to take over dot-coms and more

    Microsoft has obtained a court order to seize 41 domains used by what the Windows giant said was an Iranian cybercrime group that ran a spear-phishing operation targeting organizations in the US, Middle East, and India. 

    The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit said the gang, dubbed Bohrium, took a particular interest in those working in technology, transportation, government, and education sectors: its members would pretend to be job recruiters to lure marks into running malware on their PCs.

    "Bohrium actors create fake social media profiles, often posing as recruiters," said Amy Hogan-Burney, GM of Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit. "Once personal information was obtained from the victims, Bohrium sent malicious emails with links that ultimately infected their target's computers with malware."

    Continue reading
  • Cops' Killer Bee stings credential-stealing scammer
    Fraudster and two alleged accomplices nabbed in joint op

    An Interpol-led operation code-named Killer Bee has led to the arrest and conviction of a Nigerian man who was said to have used a remote access trojan (RAT) to reroute financial transactions and steal corporate credentials. Two suspected accomplices were also nabbed.

    The trio, aged between 31 and 38, were detained as part of a sting operation involving law enforcement agencies across 11 countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

    The suspects were arrested in the Lagos suburb of Ajegunle and in Benin City, Nigeria. At the time of their arrests, all three men were in possession of fake documents, including fraudulent invoices and forged official letters, it is claimed.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022