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Cybercriminals Check In At Hotel Point-Of-Sale Systems

New attack tool sold in black hat underground targets the hotel front desk at a global hotel chain

Cybercrime gangs are increasingly finding hotel point-of-sale systems hospitable to attack: Researchers have spotted a new remote access Trojan (RAT) tool for sale in underground forums that targets hotel computers at a global hotel chain.

The tool, which is being sold for $280, infects hotel front-desk computers and then plants spyware on them that steals credit card numbers, expiration dates, and other customer information, according to Trusteer, which discovered the malicious toolset. It does so by capturing screenshots and flying under the radar from antivirus software. But the sample studied by Trusteer is unable to grab CVV2 numbers.

For the $280 price tag, users get customer service, too, including how-to information on running the Trojan and using social engineering via VoIP software to dupe hotel front-desk managers into installing the Trojan. It can also be installed via spear-phishing emails or instant messages, or via a driveby download on an infected website, according to Trusteer.

The hospitality industry increasingly is being targeted by cybercriminals hungry for payment cards. According to the latest Trustwave SpiderLabs Global Security Report, most of the data breach investigations conducted by the company in 2011 were in food and beverage, retail, and hospitality; hospitality made up nearly 10 percent of the breaches, behind food and beverage (43.6 percent) and retail (33.7 percent). In 75 percent of the cases, the bad guys were targeting PoS systems.

"Think of the scenario of a hotel that maintains a restaurant, a spa, as well as other services all connected to one POS system. If a criminal can breach a system in the restaurant, they also have access to the front desk, the spa and any other connected system. The risk is even greater when hotels are part of a hotel chain with interconnected systems," said Nicholas Percoco, senior vice president and head of Trustwave SpiderLabs in a recent guest post on Forbes. "We've investigated cases where the criminal breaches the environment at one location and was in turn able to connect to dozens of others through the wide area network used by the hotel chain."

Amit Klein, Trusteer CTO, says it's another example of how crime is expanding. "As we have mentioned in recent posts, criminals are increasingly expanding the focus of their attacks from online banking targets to enterprises. One of the reasons for this shift is that enterprise devices can yield high value digital assets when compromised," Klein said a post this week. "In addition, the prevalence of bring your own device (BYOD) usage by employees makes it easier to infect unmanaged smartphones, tablets and laptops that are used to access sensitive enterprise systems and applications."

Trusteer has posted a screen shot of the advertisement and information on the RAT here.

The security firm recommends that PoS machines not be used for Internet-accessed email or messaging if possible, and that these machines run anti-malware software that can detect and remove RAT malware.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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