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Cutlet attacks ATMs

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Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered a malware targeting ATMs, which was being sold on the DarkNet market.

Cutlet Maker consists of three components and enables ATM jackpotting if the attacker is able to gain physical access to the machine. A toolset potentially allowing criminals to steal millions was on sale for just 5000 dollars and came equipped with a step-by-step user guide.

ATMs continue to be lucrative targets for fraudsters, who use various methods to extract maximum profit. While some rely on physically destructive methods through the use of metal cutting tools, others choose malware infection, enabling them to manipulate cash dispensers from the inside. Although malicious tools for hacking ATMs have been known for many years, the latest discovery shows that malware creators are investing more and more resources into making their “products” available for criminals who are not very familiar with computer science.

Earlier this year, a Kaspersky Lab partner provided one of our researchers with a previously unknown malicious sample presumably made to infect PCs running inside ATMs. Researchers were curious to see if this malware or something related to it was available to purchase on underground forums. A subsequent search for the unique artifacts of the malware was successful: an advertising offer describing a strain of ATM malware on a popular DarkNet spot – AlphaBay – matched the search query and revealed that the initial sample belonged to a whole commercial malware-kit created to jackpot ATMs. A public post by the malware seller, found by researchers, contained not only the description of the malware and instructions on how to get it, but also provided a detailed step-by-step guide on how to use the malware-kit in attacks, with instructions and video tutorials.

According to the research, the malware toolkit consists of three elements:

  • Cutlet Maker software, which serves as the main module responsible for communicating with the ATM’s dispenser.
  • c0decalc program, designed to generate a password in order to run the Cutlet Maker application and protect it from unauthorised use.
  • Stimulator application, which saves time for criminals by identifying the current status of ATM cash cassettes. By installing this app, an intruder receives exact information on the currency, value and number of notes in each cassette, so can then choose the one containing the largest amount, instead of blindly withdrawing cash one by one.

To begin the theft, criminals need to gain direct access to an ATM’s insides in order to access the USB port, which is used to upload the malware. If successful, they plug in a USB device which stores the software toolkit. As a first step, criminals install Cutlet Maker. Since it is password protected they use a c0decalc program, installed on another device such as a laptop or tablet – this is a kind of “copyright” protection installed by authors of Cutlet Maker in order to prevent other criminals from using it for free. After the code is generated, criminals enter it into Cutler Maker’s interface to start the money removal process.

Cutlet Maker had been on sale since 27 Mar 2017, however as researchers discovered, the earliest known sample came on the radars of the security community in June 2016. At that time, it was submitted to a public multi-scanner service from Ukraine, but later submissions from other countries were also made. It is not clear if the malware was used in actual in the wild attacks, however the guidelines that came with the malware kit contained videos which were presented by their authors as real-life proof of the malware’s efficiency.

It is unknown who is behind this malware. Regarding potential sellers of the toolkit, language, grammar and stylistic mistakes point to the fact they are non-native English speakers.

“Cutlet Maker requires almost no advanced knowledge or professional computer skills from the criminal, transforming ATM hacking from a sophisticated offensive cyber operation into yet another illegal way to earn money that is available to practically anyone who has several thousand dollars to purchase the malware. This may potentially become a dangerous threat to financial organisations. But what is more important is that while operating, Cutlet Maker interacts with the ATMs software and hardware, encountering almost no security obstacles at all. This should be changed in order to harden ATM machines,” says Konstantin Zykov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

In order to protect ATMs from attacks with the help of malicious tools like Cutlet Maker and in addition to providing reliable physical security to ATMs, Kaspersky Lab specialists advise financial organisations security teams to do the following:

  • Implement strict default-deny policies preventing any unauthorised software from running on the ATM.
  • Enable device control mechanisms to restrict the connection of any unauthorised devices to the ATM.
  • Use a tailored security solution to protect your ATMs from attacks from the likes of the Cutlet Maker malware.

For better ATM protection Kaspersky Lab also recommends using a proper security solution, such as Kaspersky Embedded Systems Security.

Kaspersky Lab products successfully detect and block the Cutlet Maker malware.

To read more about how Cutlet Maker works, read the recent blogpost on Securelist.com.

This analysis continues Kaspersky Lab’s ongoing research into financial malwar

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Personal computing devices sales still decline in MEA

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The Middle East and Africa (MEA) personal computing devices (PCD) market, which is made up of desktops, notebooks, workstations, and tablets, suffered a decline of -7.3% year on year in Q2 2017, according to the latest insights from International Data Corporation (IDC).

The global technology research and consulting firm’s Quarterly PCD Tracker for Q2 2017 shows that PCD shipments fell to around 6 million units for the quarter.

“As forecast, the market followed a similar pattern to recent quarters, with the downturn primarily stemming from a decline in shipments of slate tablets and desktops,” says Fouad Charakla, IDC’s senior research manager for client devices in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa. “This was the result of desktop users increasingly switching to mobile devices such as notebooks or even refurbished notebooks, while users of slate tablets shifted to smartphones. These trends translated into year-on-year declines of -21.9% for desktops and -15.7% for slate tablets in Q2 2017, while shipments of notebooks and detachable tablets increased 11.0% and 63.3%, respectively over the same period.”

“Market sentiment in the region remained low overall, although an aggressive push from some slate tablet vendors meant the market declined much slower than expected,” continues Charakla. “At the same time, heightened competition has also made it harder for certain players to sustain their slate tablet businesses and generate profits, causing them to lose interest in the slate tablet market altogether. Despite this, slate tablets are still the most popular computing device among home users in the region.”

Looking at the region’s key markets, IDC’s research shows that when compared to Q2 2016 overall PCD shipments were down -11.4% in the UAE, -8.9% in Turkey, and -6.7% in the ‘Rest of Middle East’ sub-region (comprising Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, and Afghanistan). South Africa and Saudi Arabia bucked this trend, recording year-on-year increases of 3.5% and 9.6%, respectively.

A massive education delivery in Pakistan acted as a key driver for notebook shipments in the region overall. Similarly, the education sector was the biggest driver of detachable tablet shipments, triggered by a huge delivery in Kenya, as well as two other deliveries in Pakistan and Turkey, which enabled this category to achieve the fastest growth of all the PCD categories.

“While a component shortage prevented market players from reducing their prices too much, the average price of consumer notebooks experienced a considerable year-on-year decline in Q2 2017,” says Charakla. “This played a key role in driving demand from the consumer segment, and was reflected in the growing popularity of lower-priced notebook models.”

Looking at the PC market’s vendor rankings, each of the top five vendors maintained their respective positions compared to the previous quarter, with the top four all gaining share.

Middle East & Africa PC Market Vendor Shares – Q2 2016 vs. Q2 2017

Brand Q2 2016 Q2 2017
HP Inc. 23.7% 27.6%
Lenovo 19.8% 21.5%
Dell 16.3% 16.7%
ASUS 8.7% 9.4%
Acer Group 5.9% 4.1%
Others 25.7% 20.7%

Although Samsung continued to lead the tablet market, the vendor rankings in the space saw quite a few changes, with Huawei catapulting itself to second place. Lenovo also climbed up a position compared to the previous quarter, causing Apple to drop to fourth place.

Middle East & Africa Tablet Market Vendor Shares – Q2 2016 vs. Q2 2017

Brand Q2 2016 Q2 2017
Samsung 20.5% 18.9%
Huawei 11.2% 15.8%
Lenovo 12.7% 9.8%
Apple 9.1% 8.8%
Alcatel 2.9% 5.0%
Others 43.5% 41.7%

“Looking to the future, the MEA PCD market is expected to decline at a faster rate than previously forecast for 2017 as a whole,” says Charakla. “Technological shifts are playing a pivotal role in deciding the future of this market, with demand for certain products shifting to other PCD products and beyond (i.e., smartphones). Accordingly, shipments of slate tablets are expected to continue declining over the coming years as demand is cannibalized by smartphones. Meanwhile, the ongoing shift to mobile computing will see growth in the desktop market remain close to flat throughout IDC’s forecast period ending 2021. Notebook shipments will experience very slow growth beyond 2018, while detachable tablets will remain the fastest growing PCD category, eating away share from other computing devices.”

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Gazer cyber-spies exposed

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ESET has released new research into the activities of the Turla cyberespionage group, and specifically a previously undocumented backdoor that has been used to spy on consulates and embassies worldwide.

ESET’s research team are the first in the world to document the advanced backdoor malware, which they have named “Gazer”, despite evidence that it has been actively deployed in targeted attacks against governments and diplomats since at least 2016.

Gazer’s success can be explained by the advanced methods it uses to spy on its intended targets, and its ability to remain persistent on infected devices, embedding itself out of sight on victim’s computers in an attempt to steal information for a long period of time.

ESET researchers have discovered that Gazer has managed to infect a number of computers around the world, with the most victims being located in Europe. Curiously, ESET’s examination of a variety of different espionage campaigns which used Gazer has identified that the main target appears to have been Southeastern Europe as well as countries in the former Soviet Union Republic.

The attacks show all the hallmarks of past campaigns launched by the Turla hacking group, namely:

  • Targeted organisations are embassies and ministries;
  • Spearphishing delivers a first-stage backdoor such as Skipper;
  • A second stealthier backdoor (Gazer in this instance, but past examples have included Carbon and Kazuar) is put in place;
  • The second-stage backdoor receives encrypted instructions from the gang via C&C servers, using compromised, kegitimate websites as a proxy.

Another notable similarity between Gazer and past creations of the Turla cyberespionage group become obvious when the malware is analysed. Gazer makes extra efforts to evade detection by changing strings within its code, randomizing markers, and wiping files securely.

In the most recent example of the Gazer backdoor malware found by ESET’s research team, clear evidence was seen that someone had modified most of its strings, and inserted phrases related to video games throughout its code.

Don’t be fooled by the sense of humour that the Turla hacking group are showing here, falling foul of computer criminals is no laughing manner.

All organisations, whether governmental, diplomatic, law enforcement, or in traditional business, need to take today’s sophisticated threats serious and adopt a layered defence to reduce the chances of a security breach.

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