New Malware Shows Marketing Polish


A new strain of point-of-sale malware skims credit card numbers and comes via a highly polished marketing campaign.

Malware is constantly evolving and, according to a new blog post from Cisco Talos, so is malware marketing. The point-of-sale (PoS) malware being sold, called GlitchPOS, isn’t particularly advanced, but its packaging and marketing are — and those advanced techniques promise new troubles for security professionals working in retail and hospitality fields.

In the blog post, researchers detail how they found the malware on a crimewave forum and rapidly discovered that it comes complete with video instructions on its use and a modular format that makes putting it in the field quite easy.

How easy is it to deploy? “I would say it’s about the sophistication of installing a video game,” says Craig Williams, director of outreach at Cisco Talos. As a consequence, “My concern is that you’re going to see younger and younger cybercriminals with kits like these. It’s just getting easier and easier,” he explains.

The growing sophistication of GlitchPOS is similar to that found in the marketing and support of Cayosin, malware with a sophisticated sales infrastructure that was discovered by researchers at Perch in February. In that case, Perch senior threat researcher Paul Scott pointed out that the malware’s author “… has got 127 posts, he’s got 1,382 followers and he’s following 306 accounts.” The Cayosin author offered individual support through direct messages as well as video and photo support showing how to create attacks on his network.

GlitchPOS’s author, identified as edbitss by researchers at Cisco Talos and Check Point, claims authorship of the DiamondFox L!NK botnet in 2015/2016 and 2017, according to the Cisco Talos blog post. Williams says that while DiamondFox L!NK was sophisticated, “The author has polished this” and improved both the malware and its marketing.

Although the malware is being marketed globally, Williams says that the victims are likely to be concentrated in the US because credit cards are still being issued with magnetic strips and some stores have delayed moving their PoS equipment to chip readers. “The cards still have mag stripes, so if they’re still swiping, they’re vulnerable,” Williams says.

Researchers note that GlitchPOS is being spread through malicious email campaigns, in messages that include a fake game featuring a cute cat. In order to protect themselves, merchants should have a fully updated anti-malware system in place and watch for suspicious email. As for consumers, there’s little they can realistically do beyond avoiding credit card swiping terminals. “If swiping your card is the only option, pay cash,” Williams recommends.

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Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and … View Full Bio

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