Security Experts:

U.S. Leads Way in PoS Malware Infections in Q3: Trend Micro

The United States is at the top of the list of countries with the most infections of point-of-sale (PoS) malware during the third quarter of the year, according to research from Trend Micro.

In its threat report for Q3, Trend Micro reported that the U.S. accounted for 30 percent of PoS malware infections. The next three places on the list – Taiwan, Philippines and Italy – each accounted for six percent of infections.

"Early this year, one of the largest retail companies in the U.S. disclosed that approximately 40 million consumer credit and debit card information was compromised as a result of a breach in its systems," according to the report. "Not long afterward, Home Depot topped that record when it disclosed that more than 100 million customer records that included credit card information was stolen as a result of a payment systems breach. The threat actors behind these breaches attacked the retailers’ point-of-sale (PoS) systems. BlackPOS was implicated in the incident reported early this year, while BlackPOS version 2 was used in the Home Depot breach. This further indicates that PoS networks are highly accessible and vulnerable."

The report identified three new pieces of PoS malware that were spotted during the third quarter: BrutPOS (Tibrun), Backoff (POSLOGR) and BlackPOS Version 2 (MEMLOG).

Recently, researchers at Trend Micro identified a new piece of PoS malware detected by the firm as TSPY_POSLOGR.K that is designed to read the memory associated with specific processes written in the .INI file. It then saves the data to files named "rep.bin" and "rep.tmp."

"Based on the other PoS malware behaviors we observed, it appears to be designed as multicomponent malware similar to an earlier BlackPOS variant named TSPY_MEMLOG.A, as it might require another component to retrieve the dumped data," Anthony Joe Melgarejo, threat response engineer at Trend Micro, explained in a blog post. "It is highly possible that this is deployed as a package."

The report also noted a spike in online banking malware infections between the second and third quarters. As in the case of PoS malware, the United States was the most affected country, accounting for about 13 percent of infections.

"Our findings confirm that we are battling rapidly moving cybercriminals and evolving vulnerabilities simultaneously," said Raimund Genes, CTO at Trend Micro, in a statement. "With this fluidity, it's time to embrace the fact that compromises will continue, and we shouldn't be alarmed or surprised when they occur.  Preparation is key and as an industry we must better educate organizations and consumers about heightened risks as attacks grow in volume and in sophistication. Understanding that cybercriminals are finding vulnerabilities and potential loopholes in every device and platform possible will help us confront these challenges so technology can be used in a positive way."

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