Perimeter
Guest Blog // Selected Security Content Provided By Sophos
What's This?
12/15/2011
09:31 AM
Dark Reading
Dark Reading
Security Insights
50%
50%

Criminals Make Sure You're Never Really Alone, Even In Self-Checkout Lanes

Vigilance against card fraud is a 24/7 process, even at the grocery store

Multiple media outlets, such as Wired, have reported that criminals have tampered with the credit- and debit-card readers at self checkouts in more than 20 supermarkets operated by California-based Lucky Supermarkets.

The thieves used credit-card skimmers attached to the terminals to collect the account numbers and PINs of everyone who used them to pay for their groceries.

In announcing the breach, Lucky responsibly advised consumers:

“There have been approximately 80 employee and customer reports of either compromised account data or attempts to access account data, with the majority coming over this past weekend ... We strongly recommend our customers who used a self check-out lane in the affected stores contact their financial institution to close existing accounts and seek further advice. We continue to work with local, state, and federal law enforcement to find those responsible.”

As usual, the theft was discovered only after the damage was done. It turns out an employee performing routine maintenance on a self-checkout machine “uncovered an extra computer board that had been placed inside the checkout machine, recording customers’ financial information.” That was on Nov. 11.

Once the supermarket chain warned customers about the compromise on Nov. 23 -- 12 days later, if you’re keeping score -- the supermarket fielded more than 1,000 calls from customers contending they had been victims of fraud.

The advice by Joseph Steinberg, a security expert whose opinion was solicited for the story states the obvious. “Everyone should always check any device in which they insert/swipe a credit/debit/ATM card, or to which they touch their card, to see if it looks like it may have been modified/covered.”

While it’s impractical that everyone checking themselves out at the local grocer will pay any attention at all to determine whether a credit/debit card machine has been tampered with, most people don't even know what to look for.

In this case it would have been nearly impossible to know these terminals had been altered because the changes were all on the inside, unlike many ATM skimmers that are attached externally.

These are decisions that each of us must make about what kinds of risks we are each willing to tolerate for convenience. You could carry large quantities of cash, but I wouldn't recommend it. For me, I will stick to using my credit card (which offers protection) and leave the debit card and armored truck at home.

Of course, before I insert that credit card I do take a look carefully to see if there is any obvious sign of tampering. I also frequent the same shops and ATMs, which gives me familiarity with what “should” be.

Last, you are not being paranoid if you do these things. They really are out to get us, so remain vigilant.

Chester Wisniewski is a senior security adviser at Sophos Canada

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
5 Security Technologies to Watch in 2017
Emerging tools and services promise to make a difference this year. Are they on your company's list?
Flash Poll
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
New Best Practices for Secure App Development
The transition from DevOps to SecDevOps is combining with the move toward cloud computing to create new challenges - and new opportunities - for the information security team. Download this report, to learn about the new best practices for secure application development.
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
In past years, security researchers have discovered ways to hack cars, medical devices, automated teller machines, and many other targets. Dark Reading Executive Editor Kelly Jackson Higgins hosts researcher Samy Kamkar and Levi Gundert, vice president of threat intelligence at Recorded Future, to discuss some of 2016's most unusual and creative hacks by white hats, and what these new vulnerabilities might mean for the coming year.