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
Data journalism takes top prize in revamped awards
The entries to the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards were extraordinarily varied and of an excellent standard, with new categories introduced which are based on content as opposed to platforms. This year, the judges decided that two entries were equally worthy of the coveted Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award.
The first co-winning entry, in the new Data Journalism category, is a set of stories by Alastair Otter and Laura Grant of Media Hack which showed how Data Journalism is shaping the future. The second co-winning entrant is Bongani Fuzile of the Daily Dispatch for his articles in the investigative category on how migrant workers were being ripped off by pension deductions (full citations below).
Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “This year we modernised the 12 categories that journalists could enter their work in and the change was embraced by entrants. In a turbulent time for media, the 2018 entries once again proved that there are excellent South African journalists delivering praiseworthy work, and we commend them for finding new and innovative ways to cover the news.”
Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group, says: “Vodacom is proud of its 17-year association with these prestigious awards, which make an important contribution to our society through the recognition of journalistic excellence. I’d like to congratulate all of tonight’s winners and, as always, I’d like to pay tribute to our hardworking judges. Ryland Fisher, Mathatha Tsedu, Arthur Goldstuck, Collin Nxumalo, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Megan Rusi, Mary Papayya, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa: thank you for making these awards a continued success.”
Veteran journalist and media stalwart Ms Amina Frense is the winner of the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Lifetime Achiever Award. She has spent decades in mainstream media both locally and internationally. She is a former Managing Editor: News and Current Affairs at the SA Broadcasting Corporation. She has worked in many countries abroad as a producer and a foreign correspondent, has written two books and is also a founding member of SANEF where she still serves as a council member (full citation below).
The overall winners share the R100 000 main prize. National winners in the various categories are as follows, with each winner taking home R10 000:
The entries in this category were of an exceptionally high standard. One entrant stood out and became the unanimous winner. This journalist showed an exceptional skill for story-telling and for finding unexpected angles and unknown facts. For his stories about Musangwe’s fight for recognition, Age cheating in SA football, and Hansie Cronje revisited, the winner is Ronald Masinda, and the team of Gift Kganyago, Nceba Ntlanganiso and Charles Lombard from eSAT TV.
Cons exploit Telegram ICO
Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered dozens of highly convincing fake websites claiming to be investment sites for an initial coin offering (ICO) by the Telegram messaging service. Many of these websites appear to belong to the same group. In one case alone, tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency were stolen from victims believing they were investing in ‘Grams’, Telegram’s rumoured new currency. Telegram has not officially confirmed an ICO and has warned people about fraudulent investor sites.
In late 2017, stories started to circulate that the Telegram messaging service was launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to finance a blockchain platform based on its TON (Telegram Open Network) technology. Unverified technical documentation was posted online, but there appears to have been no confirmation from Telegram itself. The resulting confusion seems to have allowed fraudsters to capitalise on investor interest by creating fake sites and stealing vast sums of money.
Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered dozens of such sites, possibly belonging to the same group, claiming to sell tokens for ‘Grams’ and inviting investors to pay with cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, lice litecoin, dash and Bitcoin dash. A record of transactions on one site revealed that the scammers were able to steal at least $35,000 US dollars’ worth of Ethereum from investors.
The researchers found that some of the websites were so convincing that even after Telegram and others began to issue warnings, they were still able to recruit potential investors. Most use a secure connection, require registration and generate a unique online wallet for each new victim, making it harder to track the money.
Judging by the content of the fake websites, it appears they may have common ownership. For example, several have the exactly the same ‘Our Team’ section.
“ICOs are a fairly risky investment and many people don’t yet fully understand how they work, so it is not surprising that high quality fake websites, with seemingly reassuring features such as a secure connection and registration are successful at luring people in. People wishing to invest in an ICO would do well to check with the company behind it and make sure they know exactly who they are giving their money to, or they may never see it again,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.
Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice for users considering investing in an ICO:
- Check for warning signs: for example, some of the fake Telegram ICO websites had the same wrong image next to the name of Telegram’s Chief Product Officer.
- Do your homework: always check with the brand’s official site to verify the legitimacy of the investment site and, if necessary contact the company’s ICO teams before investing any money or currency.
- Use reliable security solutions such as Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will warn you if you try to visit fake internet pages.