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
Stop Defending Everything
Kevin Kurzawa, Senior Information Security Auditor,  2/12/2020
Small Business Security: 5 Tips on How and Where to Start
Mike Puglia, Chief Strategy Officer at Kaseya,  2/13/2020
5 Common Errors That Allow Attackers to Go Undetected
Matt Middleton-Leal, General Manager and Chief Security Strategist, Netwrix,  2/12/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
The concept of application security is well known, but application security testing and remediation processes remain unbalanced. Most organizations are confident in their approach to AppSec, although others seem to have no approach at all. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-20477
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
PyYAML 5.1 through 5.1.2 has insufficient restrictions on the load and load_all functions because of a class deserialization issue, e.g., Popen is a class in the subprocess module. NOTE: this issue exists because of an incomplete fix for CVE-2017-18342.
CVE-2019-20478
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
In ruamel.yaml through 0.16.7, the load method allows remote code execution if the application calls this method with an untrusted argument. In other words, this issue affects developers who are unaware of the need to use methods such as safe_load in these use cases.
CVE-2011-2054
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
A vulnerability in the Cisco ASA that could allow a remote attacker to successfully authenticate using the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client if the Secondary Authentication type is LDAP and the password is left blank, providing the primary credentials are correct. The vulnerabilities is due to improper in...
CVE-2015-0749
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
A vulnerability in Cisco Unified Communications Manager could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to conduct a cross-site scripting (XSS) attack on the affected software. The vulnerabilities is due to improper input validation of certain parameters passed to the affected software. An attacker ...
CVE-2015-9543
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
An issue was discovered in OpenStack Nova before 18.2.4, 19.x before 19.1.0, and 20.x before 20.1.0. It can leak consoleauth tokens into log files. An attacker with read access to the service's logs may obtain tokens used for console access. All Nova setups using novncproxy are affected. This is rel...