Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

11/24/2015
12:15 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Stealthy ModPOS Is 'Most Sophisticated PoS Malware' Ever

More than just a point-of-sale card scraper, it's modular malware, and every module is a rootkit.

Just in time for the holidays, researchers at iSIGHT Partners are warning retailers about ModPOS -- malware in their point-of-sale systems that is nearly impossible to detect, can do a whole lot more than just scrape customers' credit card data, and has already successfully breached U.S. retailers.

"This is by far the most sophisticated PoS malware I've ever seen," says Maria Noboa, senior threat analyst at iSight.

BlackPOS was behind the monster breach at Target, BackOff hit UPS and over a thousand others, and now new PoS malware like CherryPicker and AbaddonPOS have hit the scene. Yet, none of them have the same level of complexity and committment to stealth that ModPOS does.

"It took us two to three weeks just to determine it was malicious," says Noboa. It then took researchers several more weeks to pick ModPOS apart and figure out how it works. In comparison, it only took them about 20 minutes to reverse engineer CherryPicker, says Noboa.

[PoS malware proves that Cyber Monday isn't the only thing retailers and shoppers have to worry about over the holidays. Read "Black Friday Security: Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Have Cyber Threats Too."]

ModPOS is modular. In addition to the PoS card scraper module, it also has a keylogger, an uploader/downloader (with which it could add other pieces), and plug-ins for scraping credentials, and gathering local system and network information.

So, explains Noboa, if it compromises the point-of-sale system and finds that the retailer has wisely encrypted all of the cardholder data or stored it elsewhere, ModPOS can still find ways to make its attack fruitful for them and damaging to the target.

The code was written by someone with exceptional skill, says Noboa. "The shell code they use," she says, "are effectively full programs." They found one piece of shell code contained over 600 functions.

The malware is able to stay persistent and obfuscated because every one of those modules operates in kernel mode, so, "each one is a rootkit," says Noboa.

It's also difficult to detect because all hashes are unique to the victim system. So the researchers can't just hand out a list of hashes along with indicators of compromise, because it wouldn't do anybody any good.

The researchers have not found any evidence of anyone selling ModPOS or even discussing it on underground forums. 

"All of this points to [the malware] being a profit center for someone," says Noboa. They're making their money from use of the malware, not sale of it, and they're not interested in sharing.

All of this has helped ModPOS be quietly lucrative. iSight researchers believe the ModPOS attacks began as early as 2013, and have since stolen millions of credit and debit cards from unnamed U.S. retailers.

They don't know yet how it's being distributed right now or have a fix on the threat actor. They do say there are indications that point to Eastern Europe.

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
GitHub Named in Capital One Breach Lawsuit
Dark Reading Staff 8/14/2019
The Mainframe Is Seeing a Resurgence. Is Security Keeping Pace?
Ray Overby, Co-Founder & President at Key Resources, Inc.,  8/15/2019
The Flaw in Vulnerability Management: It's Time to Get Real
Jim Souders, Chief Executive Officer at Adaptiva,  8/15/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-5034
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-20
An exploitable information disclosure vulnerability exists in the Weave Legacy Pairing functionality of Nest Cam IQ Indoor version 4620002. A set of specially crafted weave packets can cause an out of bounds read, resulting in information disclosure. An attacker can send packets to trigger this vuln...
CVE-2019-5035
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-20
An exploitable information disclosure vulnerability exists in the Weave PASE pairing functionality of the Nest Cam IQ Indoor, version 4620002. A set of specially crafted weave packets can brute force a pairing code, resulting in greater Weave access and potentially full device control. An attacker c...
CVE-2019-5036
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-20
An exploitable denial-of-service vulnerability exists in the Weave error reporting functionality of the Nest Cam IQ Indoor, version 4620002. A specially crafted weave packets can cause an arbitrary Weave Exchange Session to close, resulting in a denial of service. An attacker can send a specially cr...
CVE-2019-8103
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-20
Adobe Acrobat and Reader versions, 2019.012.20035 and earlier, 2019.012.20035 and earlier, 2017.011.30142 and earlier, 2017.011.30143 and earlier, 2017.011.30142 and earlier, 2015.006.30497 and earlier, and 2015.006.30498 and earlier have an out-of-bounds read vulnerability. Successful exploitation ...
CVE-2019-8104
PUBLISHED: 2019-08-20
Adobe Acrobat and Reader versions, 2019.012.20035 and earlier, 2019.012.20035 and earlier, 2017.011.30142 and earlier, 2017.011.30143 and earlier, 2017.011.30142 and earlier, 2015.006.30497 and earlier, and 2015.006.30498 and earlier have an out-of-bounds read vulnerability. Successful exploitation ...