New Malware Steals Credit Card Data From Point-of-Sale Systems

New Malware Steals Credit Card Data From Point-of-Sale Systems

Computer security firm McAfee says it has discovered a new type of malware that aims to steal credit card data from computer systems used in retail stores.

The malware, a Trojan horse variety, is being called "vSkimmer." Once installed on a checkout computer, it collects data entered into the system. The malware then sends the personal information to a central command server where it can be used by hackers who track infected computers.

McAfee says the hackers steal information stored on the black magnetic strip used on credit cards. The security firm says today's security threats are "more sophisticated and targeted than ever," growing at an unprecedented rate.

Malicious URLs, viruses and malware have grown almost six-fold in the last two years, and last year saw more new viruses and malware than all prior years combined, McAfee says. According to the McAfee Threats Report: Fourth Quarter 2012 report released earlier this year, McAfee Labs analyzed threats over the last quarter and noticed familiar trends targeting consumers, especially in the growth of mobile malware targeting smartphones.

“Our count of mobile malware samples has surpassed 36,000, with almost all of it aimed at the Android OS and having arrived in the past year,” McAfee says in its report. “Spyware, exploits, and backdoor Trojans highlighted this quarter’s assaults on mobile phones.”

McAfee says IP addresses in the United States are again both the source and the target of most malicious network activity. Publicly reported database breaches were modest compared with last quarter, but breaches in 2012 were up about 20 percent over 2011.

Cybercrime continues to be an issue.

“In looking into cybercrime this quarter, we saw several sites offering fake IDs and other papers, including passports, for sale,” McAfee said in its report. “Of course, these are only 'souvenir' documents, not for real use. However, we also read of buyers who complained of being ripped off after paying for false papers that didn’t arrive. After all, whom can you complain to when the sale goes bad?”