POS RAM scraper malware on the rise

Read time 2min 10sec

The relationship between customer and retailer is weakened by the theft of consumers' personal data; and the rising numbers of point of sale (POS) RAM scraper malware should make it clear to retailers that the security of customer data is becoming more pivotal by the minute.

So says Gregory Anderson, country manager at Trend Micro SA, who notes that this year has seen a startling rise in the uncovering of POS RAM scraper malware with the numbers doubling since last year with six new POS RAM scraper families being discovered.

According to Anderson, the mammoth attack on the retailer Target in the US in 2013 resulted in the theft of 40 million credit and debit card numbers as well as 70 million personal records of Target shoppers. "Just when it seemed retailers could start breathing easier, the recent attack on Home Depot, again in the US, was reported and is said to surpass the Target attack," he says.

As effective as the earlier methods of stealing credit card data have been, none have been as effective as POS RAM scraper malware in capturing the magnetic stripe data in its entirety, says Anderson. He points out there have been two major developments in credit card-stealing malware and the criminals who use them.

He explains the first is where criminals are now directly targeting the businesses that process credit cards instead of going after individual victims. The second is criminals are exploiting the fact that credit card magnetic strip data temporarily resides in plain text in the RAM of POS devices during processing, he continues.

"They are getting to know your systems and in order to protect your business you should learn a little more about them and the methods they are using," he advises.

According to Anderson, research attests POS RAM scrapers affect companies in the retail industry specifically, as it's a high-volume credit card transaction environment.

"This makes it a lucrative target for harvesting personal details from shoppers. Therefore the retail industry needs to put every precaution in place to keep the trusting bond with its customers strong."

A few POS RAM scraper malware varieties that have been discovered this year include BlackPOS version 2.0; Soraya; JackPOS, Decebal; BrutPOS and Backoff, concludes Anderson.

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