Attacks/Breaches
7/9/2014
04:10 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

BrutPOS Botnet Targets Retail's Low-Hanging Fruit

FireEye discovers a botnet that's going after point-of-sale systems showing bad passwords and other basic security no-nos.

In the midst of so many advanced persistent threats that seem impossible to prevent, there is a new threat out there that's still going after the low-hanging fruit. FireEye has discovered a new botnet, BrutPOS, that is being used to find point-of-sale systems' remote administration software and brute force its way into the ones with weak passwords.

Attackers are manipulating poor password practices and lax remote desktop protocol (RDP) implementations to lift payment card information from active processes within POS terminals and other places where payment data is stored.

FireEye has discovered five BrutPOS command-and-control servers, three of which are now inactive; the two active servers, both based in Russia, were set up in late May and early June. FireEye says that the operators of BrutPOS are based in Eastern Europe, most likely Ukraine or Russia.

The botnet has been active since February. At latest count, BrutPOS consisted of 5,622 bots in 119 countries -- many of them in Russia (15.67%), India (13.45%), Vietnam (7.51%), Iran (6.07%), and Taiwan (4.13%). Only a small fraction of the bots are active at any given time.

The bots scan ranges of IP addresses looking for poorly locked-down POS remote admin software.

"What's really interesting here is that the way the malware is propagating is not from some proprietary malware. It's using remote desktop protocol," says Joshua Goldfarb, chief security officer of the enterprise forensics group at FireEye. "It's misusing or abusing a legitimate protocol."

Over the course of two weeks, the attackers gained access to 60 POS systems; 51 of those were in the United States.

The most common username used by the breached systems was "administrator." The most common passwords were "pos" and "Password1."

The attackers use their admin access to install other executables that extract payment card information -- from POS terminals and elsewhere -- and exfiltrate it back to the C&C server.

Goldfarb says that the BrutPOS attackers are exploiting the fact that some organizations are still not following the basic security best-practices that have been recommended for 10 to 20 years.

"Essentially, the theme here is hackers can be lazy because [companies] allow them to be," he says. "They're only as fancy as they need to be."

Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
dadsu
100%
0%
dadsu,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/16/2014 | 1:07:28 PM
Re: So what is the statistical significance
Yes, and for some reason I thought a security standard was to disable guest accounts and rename "administrator" accounts to something besides administrator or admin....
Sara Peters
50%
50%
Sara Peters,
User Rank: Author
7/10/2014 | 6:25:02 PM
Re: So what is the statistical significance
@Marilyn   "You would think that the retail industry could do better than allowing these User Ids and passwords these days."  You would, but one thing Joshua Goldfarb pointed out to me was the fact that sometimes these very big retailers have so many POS terminals that it's awfully hard to get every single one right. That said, the password "pos" meets almost NONE of your basic requirements -- only three characters, no numbers, no special characters, no mix of caps and lowercase. It's pitiful.
Marilyn Cohodas
50%
50%
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
7/10/2014 | 12:52:15 PM
Re: So what is the statistical significance
The most common username used by the breached systems was "administrator." The most common passwords were "pos" and "Password1."

You would think that the retail industry could do better than allowing these User Ids and passwords these days. 

 
Sara Peters
50%
50%
Sara Peters,
User Rank: Author
7/10/2014 | 9:46:16 AM
Re: So what is the statistical significance
@progman2000  The attackers were scanning 57 IP address ranges, 32 of which are located in the U.S. So it still looks like the US's were easier to break into than other countries'. But Goldfarb was hesitant to speculate on why that is, because they didn't have more information. It's possible that most of the usernames/passwords used for brute-forcing were in English, or simply that American companies still struggle with bad passwords and bad password management.
progman2000
50%
50%
progman2000,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/9/2014 | 9:21:12 PM
So what is the statistical significance
of 51 of the 60 compromised systems being in the US?  Are these things primarily scanning US addresses?  Are they equally scanning other countries but US has more electronic POS?  More vulnerable POS?
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Five Emerging Security Threats - And What You Can Learn From Them
At Black Hat USA, researchers unveiled some nasty vulnerabilities. Is your organization ready?
Flash Poll
Dark Reading Strategic Security Report: The Impact of Enterprise Data Breaches
Dark Reading Strategic Security Report: The Impact of Enterprise Data Breaches
Social engineering, ransomware, and other sophisticated exploits are leading to new IT security compromises every day. Dark Reading's 2016 Strategic Security Survey polled 300 IT and security professionals to get information on breach incidents, the fallout they caused, and how recent events are shaping preparations for inevitable attacks in the coming year. Download this report to get a look at data from the survey and to find out what a breach might mean for your organization.
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-7445
Published: 2015-10-15
The Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) subsystem in the Linux kernel through 4.x mishandles requests for Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) objects, which allows context-dependent attackers to cause a denial of service (memory consumption) via an application that processes graphics data, as demonstrated b...

CVE-2015-4948
Published: 2015-10-15
netstat in IBM AIX 5.3, 6.1, and 7.1 and VIOS 2.2.x, when a fibre channel adapter is used, allows local users to gain privileges via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-5660
Published: 2015-10-15
Cross-site request forgery (CSRF) vulnerability in eXtplorer before 2.1.8 allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of arbitrary users for requests that execute PHP code.

CVE-2015-6003
Published: 2015-10-15
Directory traversal vulnerability in QNAP QTS before 4.1.4 build 0910 and 4.2.x before 4.2.0 RC2 build 0910, when AFP is enabled, allows remote attackers to read or write to arbitrary files by leveraging access to an OS X (1) user or (2) guest account.

CVE-2015-6333
Published: 2015-10-15
Cisco Application Policy Infrastructure Controller (APIC) 1.1j allows local users to gain privileges via vectors involving addition of an SSH key, aka Bug ID CSCuw46076.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Security researchers are finding that there's a growing market for the vulnerabilities they discover and persistent conundrum as to the right way to disclose them. Dark Reading editors will speak to experts -- Veracode CTO and co-founder Chris Wysopal and HackerOne co-founder and CTO Alex Rice -- about bug bounties and the expanding market for zero-day security vulnerabilities.