Vulnerabilities / Threats

10/28/2010
01:17 PM
50%
50%

Banks Weak Against Credit Card Skimming Attacks

Gartner warns that anti-skimming standards and technologies aren't keeping up with recent spate of attacks, which can quickly net individual gangs $500,000 a month.

19 Gadgets That Changed The World
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: 19 Gadgets That Changed The World

Want to make a cool $500,000 per month for you and your mules? Try card-skimming attacks.

Indeed, while Zeus-related exploits have lately been making headlines, "almost no focus has been given to a new type of flash attack that has hit several banks and payment processors I talked with over the last couple of weeks," said Avivah Litan, a VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner Research.

Such attacks are simple: crooks attach a credit card skimmer -- typically disguised to resemble the face of the targeted device -- to point-of-sale terminals, gas station pumps, or automatic teller machines (ATMs). According to the U.S. Secret Service, card skimming attacks already cost consumers and businesses at least $8 billion annually.

What's changing, however, is the scale and sophistication of such attacks. Rather than targeting a small group of stores, criminals may target chains of retailers and large numbers of stores, crossing state lines or geographical regions. Such an attack recently targeted Aldi stores in 11 Midwestern states.

The stolen card data is then compiled, condensed, and used to create fake ATM cards with PINs helpfully taped to the front. Next, at multiple locations across the country, money mules simultaneously make small withdrawals, using approximately five stolen cards in turn. Within 10 minutes, a gang can amass $100,000, said Litan. "Repeat this exercise a few times more over the course of the month. At the end of the month, the total heist can add up to $500,000.

One underlying issue is that many stolen credit card numbers don't appear to be going out of circulation. "One banker just told me that his bank is still seeing fraud on cards allegedly stolen during the Heartland Payment Systems breach," she said. For the record, the Heartland breach occurred in January 2009.

How can skimming attacks be stopped? "The only successful fraud mitigation strategy I've seen that works in practice today is that once the first round of fraud is discovered, an acquiring processor or a payment network tries to figure out the point-of-compromise for these cards," said Litan, then blocks those cards and issues new ones. While this approach can be costly, she says it's a far better alternative to seeing consumers' accounts drained.

Going forward, however, the best solution will be "stronger cardholder authentication," such as adding chip and PIN microchips to credit and debit cards, she said. While widely used in Europe, credit card issuers have yet to introduce similar security technology in the United States or Canada.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
20 Questions to Ask Yourself before Giving a Security Conference Talk
Joshua Goldfarb, Co-founder & Chief Product Officer, IDDRA,  10/16/2017
Printers: The Weak Link in Enterprise Security
Kelly Sheridan, Associate Editor, Dark Reading,  10/16/2017
Hyatt Hit With Another Credit Card Breach
Dark Reading Staff 10/13/2017
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Security Vulnerabilities: The Next Wave
Just when you thought it was safe, researchers have unveiled a new round of IT security flaws. Is your enterprise ready?
Flash Poll
The State of Ransomware
The State of Ransomware
Ransomware has become one of the most prevalent new cybersecurity threats faced by today's enterprises. This new report from Dark Reading includes feedback from IT and IT security professionals about their organization's ransomware experiences, defense plans, and malware challenges. Find out what they had to say!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.