Menu
Target credit card data was sent to server in Russia

Target credit card data was sent to server in Russia

The data was quietly moved around on Target's network before it was sent to a US server, then to Russia

Security company Seculert found that data stolen in the Target breach was received by a compromised U.S. server, then sent to a Russian server.

Security company Seculert found that data stolen in the Target breach was received by a compromised U.S. server, then sent to a Russian server.

The stolen credit card numbers of millions of Target shoppers took an international trip - to Russia.

A peek inside the malicious software that infected Target's POS (point-of-sale) terminals is revealing more detail about the methods of the attackers as security researchers investigate one of the most devastating data breaches in history.

Findings from two security companies show the attackers breached Target's network and stayed undetected for more than two weeks.

"The intrusion operators displayed innovation and a high degree of skill in orchestrating the various components of the activity," according to a January 14 report from iSight Partners, a Dallas-based information security company.

Over two weeks, the malware collected 11GB of data from Target's POS terminals, said Aviv Raff, CTO of the security company Seculert, in an interview via instant message on Thursday. Seculert analyzed a sample of the malware, which is circulating among security researchers.

The data was first quietly moved to another server on Target's network, according to a writeup on Seculert's blog. It was then transmitted in chunks to a U.S.-based server that the attackers had hijacked, Raff said.

Logs from that compromised server show the data was moved again to a server based in Russia starting on December 2. Raff said it's difficult to say if the attackers are based in Russia.

"No one knows who is really behind this," he said.

ISight is working with the US Secret Service to look into the Target breach, which compromised payment card and personal details of up to 110 million people between November 27 and December 15, 2013, the busiest shopping time of the year.

A US Department of Homeland Security spokesman said Thursday that a separate, private report with input from iSight and government agencies on the Target compromise could not be publicly released.

Target has not revealed how intruders breached its network but said that its POS terminals were infected with malware.

In its January 14 analysis, iSight wrote that the "Trojan.POSRAM" malware collected unencrypted payment card information just after it was swiped at Target and while it sat in a POS terminal's memory. The type of malware it used is known as a RAM scraper.

The code of "Trojan.POSRAM" bears a strong resemblance to "BlackPOS," another type of POS malware, iSight wrote. BlackPOS was being used by cyberattackers as far back as March 2013.

At the time of its discovery, Trojan.POSRAM "had a zero percent antivirus detection rate, which means that fully updated antivirus engines on fully patched computers could not identify the software as malicious," iSight said.

Small code changes are often made to malware to make it undetectable to security products, which appears to have been done in this case.

Although Trojan.POSRAM and BlackPOS are similar, the Target malware contains a new attack method that evades forensic detection and conceals data transfers, making it hard to detect, iSight wrote on its website.

Target's problems point to the difficulties of defending large, Internet-connected networks, said Levi Gundert, a former Secret Service agent and now a technical lead for threat research, analysis and communications at Cisco.

"It's literally impossible to prevent unauthorized access to the network," Gundert said in a phone interview.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securitymalwaredata protectiondata breachintrusionTargetSeculertiSight Partners

Featured

Slideshows

Bumper channel crowd kicks off first After Hours of 2018

Bumper channel crowd kicks off first After Hours of 2018

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar with a bumper crowd of partners, distributors and vendors descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kick-start 2018. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Bumper channel crowd kicks off first After Hours of 2018
Looking back at the top 15 M&A deals in NZ during 2017

Looking back at the top 15 M&A deals in NZ during 2017

In 2017, merger and acquisitions fever reached new heights in New Zealand, with a host of big name deals dominating the headlines. Reseller News recaps the most important transactions of the Kiwi channel during the past 12 months.

Looking back at the top 15 M&A deals in NZ during 2017
Kiwi channel closes 2017 with After Hours

Kiwi channel closes 2017 with After Hours

The channel in New Zealand came together to celebrate the close of 2017, as the final After Hours played out in front of a bumper Auckland crowd.

Kiwi channel closes 2017 with After Hours
Show Comments