05
Mar 21

At Least 30,000 U.S. Organizations Newly Hacked Via Holes in Microsoft’s Email Software

At least 30,000 organizations across the United States — including a significant number of small businesses, towns, cities and local governments — have over the past few days been hacked by an unusually aggressive Chinese cyber espionage unit that’s focused on stealing email from victim organizations, multiple sources tell KrebsOnSecurity. The espionage group is exploiting four newly-discovered flaws in Microsoft Exchange Server email software, and has seeded hundreds of thousands of victim organizations worldwide with tools that give the attackers total, remote control over affected systems.

On March 2, Microsoft released emergency security updates to plug four security holes in Exchange Server versions 2013 through 2019 that hackers were actively using to siphon email communications from Internet-facing systems running Exchange.

In the three days since then, security experts say the same Chinese cyber espionage group has dramatically stepped up attacks on any vulnerable, unpatched Exchange servers worldwide.

In each incident, the intruders have left behind a “web shell,” an easy-to-use, password-protected hacking tool that can be accessed over the Internet from any browser. The web shell gives the attackers administrative access to the victim’s computer servers.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, two cybersecurity experts who’ve briefed U.S. national security advisors on the attack told KrebsOnSecurity the Chinese hacking group thought to be responsible has seized control over “hundreds of thousands” of Microsoft Exchange Servers worldwide — with each victim system representing approximately one organization that uses Exchange to process email.

Microsoft said the Exchange flaws are being targeted by a previously unidentified Chinese hacking crew it dubbed “Hafnium,” and said the group had been conducting targeted attacks on email systems used by a range of industry sectors, including infectious disease researchers, law firms, higher education institutions, defense contractors, policy think tanks, and NGOs.

Microsoft’s initial advisory about the Exchange flaws credited Reston, Va. based Volexity for reporting the vulnerabilities. Volexity President Steven Adair said the company first saw attackers quietly exploiting the Exchange bugs on Jan. 6, 2021, a day when most of the world was glued to television coverage of the riot at the U.S. Capitol.

But Adair said that over the past few days the hacking group has shifted into high gear, moving quickly to scan the Internet for Exchange servers that weren’t yet protected by the security updates Microsoft released Tuesday.

“We’ve worked on dozens of cases so far where web shells were put on the victim system back on Feb. 28 [before Microsoft announced its patches], all the way up to today,” Adair said. “Even if you patched the same day Microsoft published its patches, there’s still a high chance there is a web shell on your server. The truth is, if you’re running Exchange and you haven’t patched this yet, there’s a very high chance that your organization is already compromised.”

Reached for comment, Microsoft said it is working closely with the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), other government agencies, and security companies, to ensure it is providing the best possible guidance and mitigation for its customers.

“The best protection is to apply updates as soon as possible across all impacted systems,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a written statement. “We continue to help customers by providing additional investigation and mitigation guidance. Impacted customers should contact our support teams for additional help and resources.”

Meanwhile, CISA has issued an emergency directive ordering all federal civilian departments and agencies running vulnerable Microsoft Exchange servers to either update the software or disconnect the products from their networks.

Adair said he’s fielded dozens of calls today from state and local government agencies that have identified the backdoors in their Exchange servers and are pleading for help. The trouble is, patching the flaws only blocks the four different ways the hackers are using to get in. But it does nothing to undo the damage that may already have been done.

A tweet from Chris Krebs, former director of the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, responding to a tweet from White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters today the vulnerabilities found in Microsoft’s widely used Exchange servers were “significant,” and “could have far-reaching impacts.”

“We’re concerned that there are a large number of victims,” Psaki said.

Continue reading →


04
Mar 21

Three Top Russian Cybercrime Forums Hacked

Over the past few weeks, three of the longest running and most venerated Russian-language online forums serving thousands of experienced cybercriminals have been hacked. In two of the intrusions, the attackers made off with the forums’ user databases, including email and Internet addresses and hashed passwords. Members of all three forums are worried the incidents could serve as a virtual Rosetta Stone for connecting the real-life identities of the same users across multiple crime forums.

References to the leaked Mazafaka crime forum database were posted online in the past 48 hours.

On Tuesday, someone dumped thousands of usernames, email addresses and obfuscated passwords on the dark web apparently pilfered from Mazafaka (a.k.a. “Maza,” “MFclub“), an exclusive crime forum that has for more than a decade played host to some of the most experienced and infamous Russian cyberthieves.

At the top of a 35-page PDF leaked online is a private encryption key allegedly used by Maza administrators. The database also includes ICQ numbers for many users. ICQ, also known as “I seek you,” was an instant message platform trusted by countless early denizens of these older crime forums before its use fell out of fashion in favor of more private networks, such as Jabber and Telegram.

This is notable because ICQ numbers tied to specific accounts often are a reliable data point that security researchers can use to connect multiple accounts to the same user across many forums and different nicknames over time.

Cyber intelligence firm Intel 471 assesses that the leaked Maza database is legitimate.

“The file comprised more than 3,000 rows, containing usernames, partially obfuscated password hashes, email addresses and other contact details,” Intel 471 found, noting that Maza forum visitors are now redirected to a breach announcement page. “Initial analysis of the leaked data pointed to its probable authenticity, as at least a portion of the leaked user records correlated with our own data holdings.”

The attack on Maza comes just weeks after another major Russian crime forum got plundered. On Jan. 20, a longtime administrator of the Russian language forum Verified disclosed that the community’s domain registrar had been hacked, and that the site’s domain was redirected to an Internet server the attackers controlled.

A note posted by a Verified forum administrator concerning the hack of its registrar in January.

“Our [bitcoin] wallet has been cracked. Luckily, we did not keep large amounts in it, but this is an unpleasant incident anyway. Once the circumstances became clear, the admin assumed that THEORETICALLY, all the forum’s accounts could have been compromised (the probability is low, but it is there). In our business, it’s better to play safe. So, we’ve decided to reset everyone’s codes. This is not a big deal. Simply write them down and use them from now on.”

A short time later, the administrator updated his post, saying:

“We are getting messages that the forum’s databases were filched after all when the forum was hacked. Everyone’s account passwords were forcibly reset. Pass this information to people you know. The forum was hacked through the domain registrar. The registrar was hacked first, then domain name servers were changed, and traffic was sniffed.”

On Feb. 15, the administrator posted a message purportedly sent on behalf of the intruders, who claimed they hacked Verified’s domain registrar between Jan. 16 and 20.

“It should be clear by now that the forum administration did not do an acceptable job with the security of this whole thing,” the attacker explained. “Most likely just out of laziness or incompetence, they gave up the whole thing. But the main surprise for us was that they saved all the user data, including cookies, referrers, ip addresses of the first registrations, login analytics, and everything else.”

Other sources indicate tens of thousands of private messages between Verified users were stolen, including information about bitcoin deposits and withdrawals and private Jabber contacts.

The compromise of Maza and Verified — and possibly a third major forum — has many community members concerned that their real-life identities could be exposed. Exploit — perhaps the next-largest and most popular Russian forum after Verified, also experienced an apparent compromise this week. Continue reading →


02
Mar 21

Microsoft: Chinese Cyberspies Used 4 Exchange Server Flaws to Plunder Emails

Microsoft Corp. today released software updates to plug four security holes that attackers have been using to plunder email communications at companies that use its Exchange Server products. The company says all four flaws are being actively exploited as part of a complex attack chain deployed by a previously unidentified Chinese cyber espionage group.

The software giant typically releases security updates on the second Tuesday of each month, but it occasionally deviates from that schedule when addressing active attacks that target newly identified and serious vulnerabilities in its products.

The patches released today fix security problems in Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, 2016 and 2019. Microsoft said its Exchange Online service — basically hosted email for businesses — is not impacted by these flaws.

Microsoft credited researchers at Reston, Va. based Volexity for reporting the attacks. Volexity President Steven Adair told KrebsOnSecurity it first spotted the attacks on Jan. 6, 2021.

Adair said while the exploits used by the group may have taken great skills to develop, they require little technical know-how to use and can give an attacker easy access to all of an organization’s email if their vulnerable Exchange Servers are directly exposed to the Internet.

“These flaws are very easy to exploit,” Adair said. “You don’t need any special knowledge with these exploits. You just show up and say ‘I would like to break in and read all their email.’ That’s all there is to it.” Continue reading →


02
Mar 21

Payroll/HR Giant PrismHR Hit by Ransomware?

PrismHR, a company that sells technology used by other firms to help more than 80,000 small businesses manage payroll, benefits, and human resources, has suffered what appears to be an ongoing ransomware attack that is disrupting many of its services.

Hopkinton, Mass.-based PrismHR handles everything from payroll processing and human resources to health insurance and tax forms for hundreds of “professional employer organizations” (PEOs) that serve more than two million employees. The company processes more than $80 billion payroll payments annually on behalf of PEOs and their clients.

Countless small businesses turn to PEOs in part because they simplify compliance with various state payroll taxes, and because PEOs are the easiest way for small businesses to pool their resources and obtain more favorable health insurance rates for their employees.

PrismHR has not yet responded to requests for comment. But in a notice sent to its PEO partners, PrismHR said it detected suspicious activity within its networks on Feb. 28, and that it disabled access to its platform for all users in an effort to contain the security incident.

The company said the disruption has affected 200 PEO clients across the country, and that the most immediate concern is helping PEOs ensure their customers can process payrolls this week.

“The outage may extend throughout today and possibly later, with potential impact on payroll processing,” Prism explained in a template email it suggested PEO partners share with their customers. “We are committed to ensuring everyone receives their pay as timely and as accurately as possible. For this payroll period, we will use estimates from the last available payroll period. Once the software platform is back online, we will perform a reconciliation and correct any discrepancies as soon as possible.”

Jacob Cloran is co-founder of Decimal, a company that does accounting for small businesses, many of whom rely on PEOs affected by the PrismHR outage. Decimal itself uses a PEO that relies on PrismHR.

“We don’t have a good option to run our payroll this week, and the message we’ve received from our PEO doesn’t give me a lot of confidence we’ll be able to do that,” Cloran said.

Cloran said while there are other cloud-based companies that work with multiple PEOs, PrismHR is by far the largest.

“Prism is the only real option on the PEO software market,” he said. “Everyone I know who has tried any of the others ends up back at Prism. It’s the best of all bad available options.” Continue reading →


01
Mar 21

Is Your Browser Extension a Botnet Backdoor?

A company that rents out access to more than 10 million Web browsers so that clients can hide their true Internet addresses has built its network by paying browser extension makers to quietly include its code in their creations. This story examines the lopsided economics of extension development, and why installing an extension can be such a risky proposition.

Singapore-based Infatica[.]io is part of a growing industry of shadowy firms trying to woo developers who maintain popular browser extensions — desktop and mobile device software add-ons available for download from Apple, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla designed to add functionality or customization to one’s browsing experience.

Some of these extensions have garnered hundreds of thousands or even millions of users. But here’s the rub: As an extension’s user base grows, maintaining them with software updates and responding to user support requests tends to take up an inordinate amount of the author’s time. Yet extension authors have few options for earning financial compensation for their work.

So when a company comes along and offers to buy the extension — or pay the author to silently include some extra code — that proposal is frequently too good to pass up.

For its part, Infatica seeks out authors with extensions that have at least 50,000 users. An extension maker who agrees to incorporate Infatica’s computer code can earn anywhere from $15 to $45 each month for every 1,000 active users.

An Infatica graphic explaining the potential benefits for extension owners.

Infatica’s code then uses the browser of anyone who has that extension installed to route Web traffic for the company’s customers, including marketers or anyone able to afford its hefty monthly subscription charges.

The end result is when Infatica customers browse to a web site, that site thinks the traffic is coming from the Internet address tied to the extension user, not the customer’s.

Infatica prices its service based on the volume of web traffic a customer is seeking to anonymize, from $360 a month for 40 gigabytes all the way to $20,000 a month for 10,000 gigabytes of data traffic pushed through millions of residential computers.

THE ECONOMICS OF EXTENSIONS

Hao Nguyen is the developer behind ModHeader, an extension used by more than 400,000 people to test the functionality of websites by making it easier for users to modify the data shared with those sites. When Nguyen found himself spending increasing amounts of his time and money supporting the extension, he tried including ads in the program to help offset costs.

ModHeader users protested loudly against the change, and Nguyen removed the ads — which he said weren’t making him much money anyway.

“I had spent at least 10 years building this thing and had no luck monetizing it,” he told KrebsOnSecurity.

Nguyen said he ignored multiple requests from different companies offering to pay him to insert their code, mainly because the code gave those firms the ability to inject whatever they wanted into his program (and onto his users’ devices) at any time.

Then came Infatica, whose code was fairly straightforward by comparison, he said. It restricted the company to routing web requests through his users’ browsers, and did not try to access more sensitive components of the user’s browser experience, such as stored passwords and cookies, or viewing the user’s screen.

More importantly, the deal would net him at least $1,500 a month, and possibly quite a bit more.

“I gave Infatica a try but within a few days I got a lot of negative user reviews,” he said. “They didn’t like that the extension might be using their browser as a proxy for going to not so good places like porn sites.”

Again he relented, and removed the Infatica code. Continue reading →


25
Feb 21

How $100M in Jobless Claims Went to Inmates

The U.S. Labor Department’s inspector general said this week that roughly $100 million in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims were paid in 2020 to criminals who are already in jail. That’s a tiny share of the estimated tens of billions of dollars in jobless benefits states have given to identity thieves in the past year. To help reverse that trend, many states are now turning to a little-known private company called ID.me. This post examines some of what that company is seeing in its efforts to stymie unemployment fraud.

These prisoners tried to apply for jobless benefits. Personal information from the inmate IDs has been redacted. Image: ID.me

A new report (PDF) from the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that from March through October of 2020, some $3.5 billion in fraudulent jobless benefits — nearly two-thirds of the phony claims it reviewed — was paid out to individuals with Social Security numbers filed in multiple states. Almost $100 million went to more than 13,000 ineligible people who are currently in prison.

The OIG acknowledges that the total losses from all states is likely to be tens of billions of dollars. Indeed, just one state — California — disclosed last month that hackers, identity thieves and overseas criminal rings stole more than $11 billion in jobless benefits from the state last year. That’s roughly 10 percent of all claims.

Bloomberg Law reports that in response to a flood of jobless claims that exploit the lack of information sharing among states, the Labor Dept. urged the states to use a federally funded hub designed to share applicant data and detect fraudulent claims filed in more than one state. But as the OIG report notes, participation in the hub is voluntary, and so far only 32 of 54 state or territory workforce agencies in the U.S. are using it.

Much of this fraud exploits weak authentication methods used by states that have long sought to verify applicants using static, widely available information such as Social Security numbers and birthdays. Many states also lacked the ability to tell when multiple payments were going to the same bank accounts.

To make matters worse, as the Coronavirus pandemic took hold a number of states dramatically pared back the amount of information required to successfully request a jobless benefits claim.

77,000 NEW (AB)USERS EACH DAY

In response, 15 states have now allied with McLean, Va.-based ID.me to shore up their authentication efforts, with six more states under contract to use the service in the coming months. That’s a minor coup for a company launched in 2010 with the goal of helping e-commerce sites validate the identities of customers for the purposes of granting discounts for veterans, teachers, students, nurses and first responders.

ID.me says it now has more than 36 million people signed up for accounts, with roughly 77,000 new users signing up each day. Naturally, a big part of that growth has come from unemployed people seeking jobless benefits.

To screen out fraudsters, ID.me requires applicants to supply a great deal more information than previously requested by the states, such as images of their driver’s license or other government-issued ID, copies of utility or insurance bills, and details about their mobile phone service.

When an applicant doesn’t have one or more of the above — or if something about their application triggers potential fraud flags — ID.me may require a recorded, live video chat with the person applying for benefits.

This has led to some fairly amusing attempts to circumvent their verification processes, said ID.me founder and CEO Blake Hall. For example, it’s not uncommon for applicants appearing in the company’s video chat to don disguises. The Halloween mask worn by the applicant pictured below is just one example.

Image: ID.me

Hall said the company’s service is blocking a significant amount of “first party” fraud — someone using their own identity to file in multiple states where they aren’t eligible — as well as “third-party” fraud, where people are tricked into giving away identity data that thieves then use to apply for benefits.

“There’s literally every form of attack, from nation states and organized crime to prisoners,” Hall said. “It’s like the D-Day of fraud, this is Omaha Beach we’re on right now. The amount of fraud we are fighting is truly staggering.”

According to ID.me, a major driver of phony jobless claims comes from social engineering, where people have given away personal data in response to romance or sweepstakes scams, or after applying for what they thought was a legitimate work-from-home job.

“A lot of this is targeting the elderly,” Hall said. “We’ve seen [videos] of people in nursing homes, where folks off camera are speaking for them and holding up documents.”

“We had one video where the person applying said, ‘I’m here for the prize money,'” Hall continued. “Another elderly victim started weeping when they realized they weren’t getting a job and were the victim of a job scam. In general though, the job scam stuff hits younger people harder and the romance and prize money stuff hits elderly people harder.”

Many other phony claims are filed by people who’ve been approached by fraudsters promising them a cut of any unemployment claims granted in their names.

“That person is told to just claim that they had their identity stolen when and if law enforcement ever shows up,” Hall said.
Continue reading →


23
Feb 21

Checkout Skimmers Powered by Chip Cards

Easily the most sophisticated skimming devices made for hacking terminals at retail self-checkout lanes are a new breed of PIN pad overlay combined with a flexible, paper-thin device that fits inside the terminal’s chip reader slot. What enables these skimmers to be so slim? They draw their power from the low-voltage current that gets triggered when a chip-based card is inserted. As a result, they do not require external batteries, and can remain in operation indefinitely.

A point-of-sale skimming device that consists of a PIN pad overlay (top) and a smart card skimmer (a.k.a. “shimmer”). The entire device folds onto itself, with the bottom end of the flexible card shimmer fed into the mouth of the chip card acceptance slot.

The overlay skimming device pictured above consists of two main components. The one on top is a regular PIN pad overlay designed to record keypresses when a customer enters their debit card PIN. The overlay includes a microcontroller and a small data storage unit (bottom left).

The second component, which is wired to the overlay skimmer, is a flexible card skimmer (often called a “shimmer”) that gets fed into the mouth of the chip card acceptance slot. You’ll notice neither device contains a battery, because there simply isn’t enough space to accommodate one.

Virtually all payment card terminals at self-checkout lanes now accept (if not also require) cards with a chip to be inserted into the machine. When a chip card is inserted, the terminal reads the data stored on the smart card by sending an electric current through the chip.

Incredibly, this skimming apparatus is able to siphon a small amount of that power (a few milliamps) to record any data transmitted by the payment terminal transaction and PIN pad presses. When the terminal is no longer in use, the skimming device remains dormant.

The skimmer pictured above does not stick out of the payment terminal at all when it’s been seated properly inside the machine. Here’s what the fake PIN pad overlay and card skimmer looks like when fully inserted into the card acceptance slot and viewed head-on:

The insert skimmer fully ensconced inside the compromised payment terminal. Image: KrebsOnSecurity.com

Continue reading →


19
Feb 21

Mexican Politician Removed Over Alleged Ties to Romanian ATM Skimmer Gang

The leader of Mexico’s Green Party has been removed from office following allegations that he received money from a Romanian ATM skimmer gang that stole hundreds of millions of dollars from tourists visiting Mexico’s top tourist destinations over the past five years. The scandal is the latest fallout stemming from a three-part investigation into the organized crime group by KrebsOnSecurity in 2015.

One of the Bluetooth-enabled PIN pads pulled from a compromised ATM in Mexico. The two components on the left are legitimate parts of the machine. The fake PIN pad made to be slipped under the legit PIN pad on the machine, is the orange component, top right. The Bluetooth and data storage chips are in the middle.

Jose de la Peña Ruiz de Chávez, who leads the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (PVEM), was dismissed this month after it was revealed that his were among 79 bank accounts seized as part of an ongoing law enforcement investigation into a Romanian organized crime group that owned and operated an ATM network throughout the country.

In 2015, KrebsOnSecurity traveled to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula to follow up on reports about a massive spike in ATM skimming activity that appeared centered around some of the nation’s primary tourist areas.

That three-part series concluded that Intacash, an ATM provider owned and operated by a group of Romanian citizens, had been paying technicians working for other ATM companies to install sophisticated Bluetooth-based skimming devices inside cash machines throughout the Quintana Roo region of Mexico, which includes Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.

Continue reading →


17
Feb 21

U.S. Indicts North Korean Hackers in Theft of $200 Million

The U.S. Justice Department today unsealed indictments against three men accused of working with the North Korean regime to carry out some of the most damaging cybercrime attacks over the past decade, including the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures, the global WannaCry ransomware contagion of 2017, and the theft of roughly $200 million and attempted theft of more than $1.2 billion from banks and other victims worldwide.

Investigators with the DOJ, U.S. Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security told reporters on Wednesday the trio’s activities involved extortion, phishing, direct attacks on financial institutions and ATM networks, as well as malicious applications that masqueraded as software tools to help people manage their cryptocurrency holdings.

Prosecutors say the hackers were part of an effort to circumvent ongoing international financial sanctions against the North Korean regime. The group is thought to be responsible for the attempted theft of approximately $1.2 billion, although it’s unclear how much of that was actually stolen.

Confirmed thefts attributed to the group include the 2016 hacking of the SWIFT payment system for Bangladesh Bank, which netted thieves $81 million; $6.1 million in a 2018 ATM cash out scheme targeting a Pakistani bank; and a total of $112 million in virtual currencies stolen between 2017 and 2020 from cryptocurrency companies in Slovenia, Indonesia and New York.

“The scope of the criminal conduct by the North Korean hackers was extensive and longrunning, and the range of crimes they have committed is staggering,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison for the Central District of California. “The conduct detailed in the indictment are the acts of a criminal nation-state that has stopped at nothing to extract revenge and obtain money to prop up its regime.”

The indictments name Jon Chang Hyok (a.k.a “Alex/Quan Jiang”), Kim Il (a.k.a. “Julien Kim”/”Tony Walker”), and Park Jin Hyok (a.k.a. Pak Jin Hek/Pak Kwang Jin). U.S. prosecutors say the men were members of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), an intelligence division of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) that manages the state’s clandestine operations.

The Justice Department says those indicted were members of a DPRK-sponsored cybercrime group variously identified by the security community as the Lazarus Group and Advanced Persistent Threat 38 (APT 38). The government alleges the men reside in North Korea but were frequently stationed by the DPRK in other countries, including China and Russia.

Park was previously charged in 2018 in connection with the WannaCry and Sony Pictures attacks. But today’s indictments expanded the range of crimes attributed to Park and his alleged co-conspirators, including cryptocurrency thefts, phony cryptocurrency investment schemes and apps, and efforts to launder the proceeds of their crimes.

Prosecutors in California also today unsealed an indictment against Ghaleb Alaumary, a 37-year-old from Mississauga, Ontario who pleaded guilty in November 2020 to charges of laundering tens of millions of dollars stolen by the DPRK hackers.

The accused allegedly developed and marketed a series of cryptocurrency applications that were advertised as tools to help people manage their crypto holdings. In reality, prosecutors say, the programs were malware or downloaded malware after the applications were installed.

A joint cyber advisory from the FBI, the Treasury and DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) delves deeper into these backdoored cryptocurrency apps, a family of malware activity referred to as “AppleJeus. “Hidden Cobra” is the collective handle assigned to the hackers behind the AppleJeus malware.

“In most instances, the malicious application—seen on both Windows and Mac operating systems—appears to be from a legitimate cryptocurrency trading company, thus fooling individuals into downloading it as a third-party application from a website that seems legitimate,” the advisory reads. “In addition to infecting victims through legitimate-looking websites, HIDDEN COBRA actors also use phishing, social networking, and social engineering techniques to lure users into downloading the malware.” Continue reading →


15
Feb 21

Bluetooth Overlay Skimmer That Blocks Chip

As a total sucker for anything skimming-related, I was interested to hear from a reader working security for a retail chain in the United States who recently found Bluetooth-enabled skimming devices placed over top of payment card terminals at several stores. Interestingly, these skimmers interfered with the terminal’s ability to read chip-based cards, forcing customers to swipe the stripe instead.

The payment card skimmer overlay transmitted stolen data via Bluetooth, physically blocked chip-based transactions, and included a PIN pad overlay.

Here’s a closer look at the electronic gear jammed into these overlay skimmers. It includes a hidden PIN pad overlay that captures, stores and transmits via Bluetooth data from cards swiped through the machine, as well as PINs entered on the device:

The hidden magnetic stripe reader is in the bottom left, just below the Bluetooth circuit board. A PIN pad overlay (center) intercepts any PINs entered by customers; the cell phone battery (right) powers all of the components.

My reader source shared these images on condition that the retailer in question not be named. But it’s worth pointing out these devices can be installed on virtually any customer-facing payment terminal in the blink of eye. Continue reading →