As a greater number of banks in the United States shift to issuing more secure credit and debit cards with embedded chip technology, fraudsters are going to direct more of their attacks against online merchants. No surprise, then, that thieves increasingly are turning to an emerging set of software tools to help them evade fraud detection schemes employed by many e-commerce companies.
Every browser has a relatively unique “fingerprint” that is shared with Web sites. That signature is derived from dozens of qualities, including the computer’s operating system type, various plugins installed, the browser’s language setting and its time zone. Banks can leverage fingerprinting to flag transactions that occur from a browser the bank has never seen associated with a customer’s account.
Payment service providers and online stores often use browser fingerprinting to block transactions from browsers that have previously been associated with unauthorized sales (or a high volume of sales for the same or similar product in a short period of time).
In January, several media outlets wrote about a crimeware tool called FraudFox, which is marketed as a way to help crooks sidestep browser fingerprinting. However, FraudFox is merely the latest competitor to emerge in a fairly established marketplace of tools aimed at helping thieves cash out stolen cards at online merchants.
Another fraudster-friendly tool that’s been around the underground hacker forums even longer is called Antidetect. Currently in version 188.8.131.52, Antidetect allows users to very quickly and easily change components of the their system to avoid browser fingerprinting, including the browser type (Safari, IE, Chrome, etc.), version, language, user agent, Adobe Flash version, number and type of other plugins, as well as operating system settings such as OS and processor type, time zone and screen resolution.
The seller of this product shared the video below of someone using Antidetect along with a stolen credit card to buy three different downloadable software titles from gaming giant Origin.com. That video has been edited for brevity and to remove sensitive information; my version also includes captions to describe what’s going on throughout the video.
In it, the fraudster uses Antidetect to generate a fresh, unique browser configuration, and then uses a bundled tool that makes it simple to proxy communications through one of a hundreds of compromised systems around the world. He picks a proxy in Ontario, Canada, and then changes the time zone on his virtual machine to match Ontario’s.
Then our demonstrator goes to a carding shop and buys a credit card stolen from a woman who lives in Ontario. After he checks to ensure the card is still valid, he heads over the origin.com and uses the card to buy more than $200 in downloadable games that can be easily resold for cash. When the transactions are complete, he uses Antidetect to create a new browser configuration, and restarts the entire process — (which takes about 5 minutes from browser generation and proxy configuration to selecting a new card and purchasing software with it). Click the icon in the bottom right corner of the video player for the full-screen version.
I think it’s safe to say we can expect to see more complex anti-fingerprinting tools come on the cybercriminal market as fewer banks in the United States issue chipless cards. There is also no question that card-not-present fraud will spike as more banks in the US issue chipped cards; this same increase in card-not-present fraud has occurred in virtually every country that made the chip card transition, including Australia, Canada, France and the United Kingdom. The only question is: Are online merchants ready for the coming e-commerce fraud wave?
Hat tip to Alex Holden of Hold Security for bringing this video and innovation to my attention.
Update: The graphics linked to in the paragraph above on chip card transitions in other countries are from Doug King’s January 2012 white paper “Chip-and-PIN: Success and Challenge in Reducing Fraud” (PDF).