By Andrew Brandt
A serious, targeted threat from customized malware that steals credit card magnetic strip track data could literally bankrupt your business. That’s the message two security researchers from Trustwave gave at their talk during the Defcon computer security conference Saturday.
The researchers, Jibran Ilyas and Nicholas Percoco of Trustwave Spider Labs, respond to calls for help when businesses find malware in critical systems. When banks field reports of credit card fraud, they try to find the earliest common location or business where all the victims used their card. When they do, the bank calls the business, who then call in the researchers.
In their talk, Malware Freak Show 3, the researchers reported on several types of malware all of which are designed to steal the so-called Track 1 data — the information encoded on the magnetic strip on the back of the card — when a salesperson or waiter swipes the credit card attached to the cash register.
The malware may reside on the register (a device that, in many cases, is simply a custom-configured Windows computer) or on a server in the back room of the business that’s used to process credit card transactions. Once the malware has the Track 1 data, it transmits the string of numbers to remote locations, where the data can be used to produce fake, but functional, physical credit cards. The thieves can then sell or use the cards to purchase valuable merchandise.