MUMBAI: The government has warned banks and retail establishments of malware called ‘Dexter’ that steals credit card data from point of sales (POS) terminals that are connected to the internet. Experts say that there has been a surge in the number of POS terminals that use internet protocol to enable wireless features.
The malware alert has been sounded by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team under the department of electronics and information technology, which is part of the ministry of communications and information technology. TOI had reported in February 2013 that bankers suspected that the spate of credit card frauds was due to large-scale data theft by malware, possibly Dexter, which was then recently detected.
“Malware intrusion cannot affect POS terminals that directly connect to telephone lines; they can infect only those POS machines that connect to IP traffic (internet),”said Nitin Bhatnagar of SISA Information Security, a cyber security specialist firm. The malware typically infects the computer that is part of the card payment system at organized retail chains. Big stores connect their systems to the POS machines so that the payment details are automatically linked to the invoice and there is straight-through processing. The malware manages to enter the system either through a phishing email or through pen drives.
While earlier credit card payments were made in POS terminals connected to telephone lines in standalone retail stores, the surge in organized retail has resulted in the growth of POS terminals connected to the net. “IP traffic is the future. Biometric identification will require IP traffic so also will wireless POS terminals. It facilitates many innovations but also brings risks of malware,” said Bhatnagar.
“The custom-made malware dubbed as Dexter/Black POS/Memory Dump Grabber along with Project Hook malware campaign mainly targets personally identifiable information,” the virus alert said. This information includes the holder’s name, card number, expiration date, CVV code and other discretionary information.
The stolen information is then used to make fraudulent cards. The countermeasures recommended by the alert include ensuring that computers used for payments are not used for any other purpose. “Retailers that allow internet or email access on their POS terminals are giving an invitation to malware intrusion. To protect payment systems against malware, it is important to uniquely segment the POS connections in the network,” said Bhatnagar.
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Courtesy : Economic Times