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.

Threat Intelligence

2/20/2019
12:01 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

'Formjacking' Compromises 4,800 Sites Per Month. Could Yours Be One?

Cybercriminals see formjacking as a simple opportunity to take advantage of online retailers - and all they need is a small piece of JavaScript.

For a while, it was ransomware. Then it was cryptojacking. Now researchers point to formjacking as the latest threat-of-the-moment and means for hackers to get quick cash.

Cybercriminals have turned to formjacking as ransomware and cryptojacking yield less profit, according to Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR), Volume 24. Symantec reports it blocked more than 3.7 million formjacking attacks on endpoints in 2018, with nearly one-third of those taking place during November and December as holiday shopping season ramped up.

Formjacking attacks are simple: Cybercriminals input malicious code onto retailers' websites and lift customers' payment card details. Conservative estimates indicate they collected tens of millions of dollars last year by using stolen data in credit card fraud or selling consumers' records on the Dark Web. Ten stolen cards from each compromised website could generate up to $2.2 million total in profit for attackers, Symantec reports. A single card can fetch up to $45 in underground forums.

Kevin Haley, director of security response at Symantec, says formjacking's growth is reminiscent of the time ransomware began to spike back in 2012. "Nobody knew what it was, but we saw this significant growth, and we saw that it would be a big deal moving forward," he explains.

Now cybercriminals see formjacking as a simple opportunity to take advantage of online retailers. All they need is a small piece of JavaScript; from there, they can take advantage of a website vulnerability or infect a third-party application the site is using. The rise in formjacking is coupled by an increase in supply chain attacks as hackers use those to get onto target sites.

Magecart is a primary driver of the formjacking trend, Haley says. The threat group was behind several high-profile formjacking attacks in 2018 against targets including Ticketmaster and British Airways. Its attackers have infiltrated more than 800 e-commerce sites with card skimming software installed on third-party components and services used by the victims.

The British Airways and Ticketmaster attacks made headlines, but Haley says the majority of websites infected with formjacking attacks are for small and midsize businesses (SMBs). Unlike major corporations, SMBs lack the resources to detect and mitigate these types of threats.

"They become more tempting targets, easier to get on," he continues. "They may not score as much as you would with a large retailer, but you can be there for a long period of time and get a consistent number of credentials and credit card information."

Don't Worry: Ransomware and Cryptojacking Are Still Here
Formjacking may have spiked, but it hasn't completely eclipsed cryptojacking and ransomware. The latter two threats have changed, researchers report, but they haven't entirely disappeared.

Data shows ransomware declined 20% overall – its first drop since 2013 – but enterprise ransomware increased 12%. More than 80% of all ransomware infections hit businesses. The shift is likely due to a decline in exploit kit activity, researchers report, as this was previously a key channel for ransomware delivery. Most ransomware attacks in 2018 spread via email, which remains the primary communication tool for most organizations.

"The major propagation and attack method is via email, and it's less and less accessible against consumers as they change their habits," Haley explains. People are more likely to read emails on their phones than their PCs. Most major ransomware families still target Windows-based computers, making consumers less vulnerable as attacks don't execute on smartphones.

And, of course, there's the financial factor: "There's a much bigger payday if you get into an enterprise," he adds. Consumers may not have the money or willpower to pay attackers for personal files. Businesses are more likely to pay ransom if an attack could shut them down.

Cryptojacking is down but still popular. Last year, Symantec blocked nearly 69 million cryptojacking events, more than four times the amount blocked in 2017. However, researchers detected a 52% drop in cryptojacking events between January and December 2018. During the same time periods, cryptocurrency Monero lost 90% of its value, they explain in the newest ISTR report.

"There's still money to be made, but it's harder," says Haley of the threat. "You have to infect more machines." And while cryptojacking is still an easy feat for most attackers, it will become more difficult to make the same amount of money if they need access to more devices. Many of them are targeting businesses, which have larger numbers of more powerful devices.

Related Content:

 

 

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop 2019. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop agenda here.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Why Cyber-Risk Is a C-Suite Issue
Marc Wilczek, Digital Strategist & CIO Advisor,  11/12/2019
Black Hat Q&A: Hacking a '90s Sports Car
Black Hat Staff, ,  11/7/2019
The Cold Truth about Cyber Insurance
Chris Kennedy, CISO & VP Customer Success, AttackIQ,  11/7/2019
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
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-18954
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-14
Pomelo v2.2.5 allows external control of critical state data. A malicious user input can corrupt arbitrary methods and attributes in template/game-server/app/servers/connector/handler/entryHandler.js because certain internal attributes can be overwritten via a conflicting name. Hence, a malicious at...
CVE-2019-3640
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-14
Unprotected Transport of Credentials in ePO extension in McAfee Data Loss Prevention 11.x prior to 11.4.0 allows remote attackers with access to the network to collect login details to the LDAP server via the ePO extension not using a secure connection when testing LDAP connectivity.
CVE-2019-3661
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-14
Improper Neutralization of Special Elements used in an SQL Command ('SQL Injection') in McAfee Advanced Threat Defense (ATD) prior to 4.8 allows remote authenticated attacker to execute database commands via carefully constructed time based payloads.
CVE-2019-3662
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-14
Path Traversal: '/absolute/pathname/here' vulnerability in McAfee Advanced Threat Defense (ATD) prior to 4.8 allows remote authenticated attacker to gain unintended access to files on the system via carefully constructed HTTP requests.
CVE-2019-3663
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-14
Unprotected Storage of Credentials vulnerability in McAfee Advanced Threat Defense (ATD) prior to 4.8 allows local attacker to gain access to the root password via accessing sensitive files on the system.