Popping up in various permutations for the better part of four years now, the online payment skimming operations run by Magecart fraudsters continue to intensify in 2019. Targeting vulnerable content management systems used for running payment on e-commerce sites, Magecart once was used to describe the group running these attacks. But as its number widened to as many as 12 major identifiable criminal syndicates, the Magecart moniker is just as likely to refer to the common techniques they use.
Magecart attacks work on the same principles that a POS skimmer would at a physical cash register. The bad guys find a way to quietly insert scripts onto compromised servers running payment systems to steal customer data as it's entered by customers on an e-commerce site, sending that data silently to the attackers without interrupting the payment mechanism.
"With the number of criminal groups operating these skimming campaigns, it's likely one of the biggest threats facing e-commerce right now," said Yonathan Klijnsma, threat researcher for RiskIQ, late last year.
Security experts like Bob Rudis, chief data scientist at Rapid7, believe this has to do with the work done to reduce POS fraud through the use of chip-based credit cards.
"Attackers still want payment card data, since they have their own playbooks full of successful steps they can take to turn digits into dollars,” Rudis recently wrote. "Rather than abandon all this coin, they've refocused their efforts to the server side."
Last year we saw anecdotal evidence of this with high-profile Magecart attacks against the likes of British Airways, Ticketmaster, and NewEgg. The hits keep coming, and the signs are mounting that Magecart is gaining even more momentum this year.