FBI and DHS CISA issue alerts on e-skimming attacks

Pierluigi Paganini October 24, 2019

The US FBI issued a warning for the US private sector about e-skimming attacks carried out by the Magecart cybercrime groups.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released an alert on e-skimming attacks. E-skimming took place when hackers compromise an e-commerce site and plant a malicious code designed to siphon payment card data or personally identifiable information (PII).

“This warning is specifically targeted to small and medium-sized businesses and government agencies that take credit card payments online. E-skimming occurs when cyber criminals inject malicious code onto a website.” reads the alert published by the FBI. “The bad actor may have gained access via a phishing attack targeting your employees—or through a vulnerable third-party vendor attached to your company’s server.”

E-skimming attacks were initially observed in the wild in 2016, their number rapidly increased since then. In the last years, numerous attacks involving software skimmers were carried out by threat actors under the Magecart umbrella.

The attacks used various techniques across the time to carry out an e-skimming attack, such as exploiting flaws in the e-commerce platform (i.e. Magento, OpenCart). In other attacks, hackers have compromised plugins used by e-commerce platforms in a classic supply chain attack or have injected software skimmers inside a company’s cloud hosting account that was poorly protected.

Another attack scenario sees hackers targeting the administrators of the platform with social engineering attacks in an attempt to obtain his credentials and use them to plant the malicious code in the e-store.

Hacker groups under the Magecart umbrella focus in the theft of payment card data with software skimmers. Security firms have monitored the activities of a dozen groups at least since 2016

According to a joint report published by RiskIQ and FlashPoint, some groups are more advanced than others, in particular, the gang tracked as Group 4 appears to be very sophisticated.

The list of victims of the groups is long and includes several major platforms such as British AirwaysNeweggTicketmasterMyPillow and Amerisleep, and Feedify

Millions of Magecart instances were detected over time, security experts discovered tens of software skimming scripts.

In a report recently published by RiskIQ, experts estimate that the group has impacted millions of users. RiskIQ reports a total of 2,086,529 instances of Magecart detections, most of them are supply-chain attacks.

As part of the Cyber Security Month, the FBI is urging organizations, especially small and medium-sized businesses and government agencies, to adopt the necessary countermeasures to prevent e-skimming attacks.

Below the list of recommendations provided by the FBI:

  • Update and patch all systems with the latest security software. Anti-virus and anti-malware need to be up-to-date and firewalls strong.
  • Change default login credentials on all systems.
  • Educate employees about safe cyber practices. Most importantly, do not click on links or unexpected attachments in messages.
  • Segregate and segment network systems to limit how easily cyber criminals can move from one to another.

The FBI and DHS CISA suggest people report suspected attacks to their local FBI office or to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – Magecart, e-skimming attacks)

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