Retailers urged to defend against 'Backoff' point-of-sale malware

The PCI Security Standards Council says the Backoff malware is 'a very real threat'

A payment card industry security consortium warned retailers on Wednesday of the urgency to secure their systems against "Backoff," a malicious software program that steals card numbers.

Backoff "represents a very real threat to the security of cardholder data in all organizations," wrote the PCI Security Standards Council, an organization founded by MasterCard, Visa, American Express and other card companies.

The U.S. Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security warned last week that 1,000 U.S. businesses may be infected by Backoff, which wasn't detected by most antivirus security software until earlier this month.

The retail industry has been shaken by attackers who have successfully installed malware on point-of-sale devices that process card payments, including Target, Neiman Marcus, White Lodging, Michaels and UPS store.

Card breaches have been reported by Supervalu and P.F. Chang's China Bistro, while several other companies have ongoing investigations into suspected breaches.

Card companies require companies to be compliant with the extensive security requirements issued by PCI-DSS or face liability for fraudulent purchases. But despite passing PCI audits, many companies have been hacked nonetheless, with attackers still finding network weaknesses.

The PCI Council recommended that companies check with their antivirus vendor to make sure their product detects Backoff and run a scan immediately. The organization also advised to "review all system logs for any strange or unexplained activity, especially large data files being sent to unknown locations."

Retailers should also refresh their passwords and change default ones, a long recommended security practice but one which still catches companies off guard.

Other recommendations made by the PCI Council may not be so easy or cheap. It recommended that merchants use card processing devices that encrypt data immediately after it is captured.

Several types of malware found on point-of-sale devices are so-called memory "scrapers," which capture the card data while it is held unencrypted in memory. The weakness is prevalent in retail POS devices on networks that pass PCI-DSS audits.

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

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags malwaredata protectionintrusionPCI Security Standards Council

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?