Chip and Pin Bank Cards

US banks are finally rolling out a new and more secure type of debit and credit card technology that should strengthen their security. Currently cards use a magnetic strip that holds the card number and expiration date which provides very little security since the card number is being transmitted over the point of sale device and the magnetic strip makes it easy to clone a credit card with stolen information. The EMV “smart card” technology (a joint effort of Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) cards have a built in chip that replaces the functionality of the magnetic strip. However, the chip provides much more security because every time it is used, it generates a one-time transaction code that is cryptographically signed and transmitted. This means that if thieves are able to skim a point of sale terminal or hack into a retailer’s network the codes they steal are worthless. This could have prevented much of the damages caused by breaches like Target, where millions of card numbers where stolen.
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These EMV card are not exactly new technology since they have been available since the early 2000’s and most of the rest of the world has already adopted them as the gold standard. The roll out in the US has been very slow because of the great costs of issuing new cards and upgrading point of sale terminals at retail locations. However, with the rise in identity theft and credit card fraud at an all time high, the credit card companies are pushing for the new more secure technology. They are forcing the retailers to transition to the EMV chip and pin terminals by setting a deadline of October 1st, 2015. After that all any company that accepts credit and debit card payments but doesn’t have chip and PIN readers in place could face increased liability and fines for fraudulent transactions incurred if card data is stolen from them.
Author: Charles Leavitt

Source: http://www.wired.com/2015/04/hacker-lexicon-chip-pin-cards/

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Phishing Leads to Man-In-The-Middle Attacks

Krebs on Security reported that a security company called Proofpoint had detected a 4 week-long targeted phishing campaign against customers of one of Brazil’s largest ISPs who use two routers (UTStarcom and TP-Link) that are commonly used on that ISP. The emails pretended to be an account/billing message from the ISP with a link to a fake site that looked like the ISP’s site. The fake site used a cross-site request forgery exploit to start a brute force attack against the victim’s router administrator login page using default usernames and passwords for the two brands of routers. Once the script had successfully logged in it would change the router’s primary DNS (Dynamic Name Server) address to the criminal’s own malicious DNS. This allows the crooks to monitor all web traffic, hi-jack search results and redirect the victim from legitimate sites to look-alike spoofs that steal authentication credentials and sensitive data like usernames, passwords and credit card info. This could also lead to the installation of other malware.

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mage of malicious iframe scripts used to hi-jack the router and DNS

This type of  attack is especially dangerous because it can bypass antivirus and security tool detection and can even lead to the router and hosts becoming part of a bot-net.

The important take away from this attack is that users need to change the default usernames and passwords on their routers and take precautions against falling victim to phishing attacks.

Sources:
http://krebsonsecurity.com/2015/02/spam-uses-default-passwords-to-hack-routers/
https://www.proofpoint.com/us/threat-insight/post/Phish-Pharm

Author: Charles Leavitt