Security researchers at iSight Partners have identified a stealth malware called ModPOS that’s been targeting retail point-of-sale systems since at least 2013.
According to Stephen Ward, Senior Director at iSight Partners, ModPOS is the “most sophisticated point of sale malware we have been to date.” In addition to retail point-of-sale systems, the malware is also believed to have been targeting the food industry, hospitality industry as well as healthcare companies.
This particular malware has the ability to scrape credit card numbers from POS systems’ memory, key logging, and transmitting stolen information and an uploader/downloader functionality, making this malware capable of launching a highly advanced attack.
ModPOS’s particular code uses advanced persistent threats and several levels of encryption to avoid detection, leaving the creators still unidentified at this time. The company has hinted that the malware could have ties to Eastern Europe based on the IP addresses identified. Researchers at iSight have spent the last month reaching out to retailers warning them of the malware in hopes to help them before it’s too late.
As the implementation of EMV technology has allowed retailers to accept more secure chip-based cards at their point of sale systems, this could help aid in the fight against ModPOS, but only if done correctly.
In addition to abiding by the PCI DSS compliance standards and adopting the latest EMV terminals, companies need to implement true end-to-end encryption and that also includes encrypting any data in the memory. Since POS malware capitalizes on data in memory, if not encrypted, the ModPOS can still take the information in clear text.