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Newly Detected Magecart Infrastructure Discloses the Scale of Ongoing Campaign

 

A recently discovered Magecart skimming campaign has its origins in an earlier attack activity dating back to November 2021. 

To that end, Malwarebytes revealed in a Tuesday investigation that two malware domains identified as hosting credit card skimmer code — "scanalytic[.]org" and "js.staticounter[.]net" — are part of a larger infrastructure used to carry out the attacks. 

Jérôme Segura stated, "We were able to connect these two domains with a previous campaign from November 2021 which was the first instance to our knowledge of a skimmer checking for the use of virtual machines. However, both of them are now devoid of VM detection code. It's unclear why the threat actors removed it, unless perhaps it caused more issues than benefits." 

Based on the other domains discovered, the earliest indication of campaign activity has been around since May 2020. Magecart is a cybercrime syndicate made up of dozens of subgroups that specialise in hacks involving digital credit card fraud through the injection of JavaScript code into e-commerce shops, often on checkout pages. 

Operatives obtain access to websites either directly or through third-party firms that provide software to the targeted websites. While the attacks first received attention in 2015 for targeting the Magento e-commerce platform (the term Magecart is a combination of "Magento" and "shopping cart"), they have now spread to other platforms, including a WordPress plugin called WooCommerce. 

According to a Sucuri study published in April 2022, WordPress has surpassed Magento as the leading CMS platform for credit card skimming malware, exceeding Magento as of July 2021, with skimmers hidden in websites as false photos and seemingly harmless JavaScript theme files. 

Furthermore, during the first five months of 2022, WordPress websites accounted for 61 per cent of known credit card skimmer malware detections, followed by Magento (15.6 per cent), OpenCart (5.5 per cent), and others (17.7 per cent). 

"Attackers follow the money, so it was only a matter of time before they shifted their focus toward the most popular e-commerce platform on the web," Sucuri's Ben Martin stated at the time.

Mattress Company Hit by a Magecart Attack, Suffers Data Breach

Emma Sleep Company confirmed that it was hit by a Magecart attack which allowed hackers to steal customer's credit card and debit card data from the company website. The customers were told about the attack via emails last week. The company mentioned "subject to a cyberattack leading to the theft of personal data" but didn't specify in the message the date of breach incident. The attack was sophisticated, targeting checkout process of the company website and stealing personal information, including credit card data, whether the customer made a purchase doesn't matter. 

It is believed to be a Magecart attack, as suggested by the Adobe Magento e-commerce platform. "Currently there is "no evidence" personal or payment data has been abused in the wild, the company said to customers in the email. Nevertheless, it advised them to contact their banks or credit card provider and "follow their advice," and check for unusual or suspicious activity," reports The Register. The Magecart attack has affected customers across 12 countries, associated with a malicious code that was attached to checkout pages that skimmed card data from a user's browser. 

The attack was targeted, and the hacker made copy-cat URLs according to the needs. According to the mattress company, it is positive that the digital platforms were upto date with the latest security fixes. In a famous Magecart attack that happened in 2018 where it exposed 40 million British Airways customers' data (it was fined €20m for the act), it used shady skimming techniques to extract credit cards and debit cards credentials. The hackers get access to the site either via third-party apps or directly, and deploy malicious JavaScript which is responsible for stealing the information. 

The company admits that the security measures had been implemented in an effective way, in accordance with the Javascript code implementation and dynamically loaded from the hacker's server and via highly advanced escape techniques to evade detection, and also plan out countermeasures to avoid analysis. Hence, the technology that kept track of scripts in the web pages couldn't identify it. 

"In February this year, Adobe issued two out-of-bounds patches in a single week when critical security bugs affecting its Magento/Adobe Commerce product emerged, with the vendor warning the vulns were being actively exploited," reports the Register.

Credit Cards Were Forged from a Prominent e-Cigarette Store

 

Since being breached, Element Vape, a famous online retailer of e-cigarettes including vaping kits, is harboring a credit card skimmer on its website. In both retail and online storefronts in the United States and Canada, this retailer provides e-cigarettes, vaping equipment, e-liquids, and Synthetic drugs.
 
Its website Element Vape is uploading a potentially Malicious file from either a third-party website that appears to be a credit card stealer. Magecart refers to threat actors who use credit card cybercriminals on eCommerce sites by infiltrating scripts. 

On numerous shop webpages, beginning with the homepage, a mystery base64-encoded script may be seen on pages 45-50 of the HTML source code. For an unknown period of time, the computer worm has so far been present on ElementVape.com. 

This code was gone as of February 5th, 2022, and before, according to a Wayback Machine review of ElementVape.com. As a result, the infection appears to have occurred more recently, probably after the date and before today's detection. When decoded, it simply fetches the appropriate JavaScript file from a third-party site :

/weicowire[.]com/js/jquery/frontend.js

When this script was decoded and examined, it was apparent – the collection of credit card and invoicing information from clients during the checkout. The script looks for email addresses, payment card details, phone numbers, and billing addresses (including street and ZIP codes). 

The attacker acquires these credentials via a predefined Telegram address in the script which is disguised. The code also has anti-reverse-engineering features which check if it's being run in a sandbox or with "devtools" to prevent it from being examined.

It's unclear how the backend code of ElementVape.com was altered in the first place to allow the malicious script to enter. Reportedly, this isn't the first instance Element Vape's security has been breached. Users reported getting letters from Element Vape in 2018 indicating the company had a data breach so the "window of penetration between December 6, 2017, and June 27, 2018, might have revealed users" personal details to threat actors. 

Several Magento Sites were Targeted by a Surge of MageCart Attacks

 

A large number of online stores using the Magento 1 e-commerce system were targeted by a web skimmer, according to Sansec, an eCommerce security consultancy. 

The crawler detected roughly 374 infections in a single day, indicating an onslaught. The infection was downloaded from the domain naturalfreshmall[.]com, which is presently offline. The threat operators' purpose was to steal credit card information from consumers at the targeted online retailers.

An attacker often uses a security flaw in the Quickview plugin to insert rogue admin users into susceptible Magento stores as the initial intrusion vector. Under this scenario, however, the flaw was exploited to add a default value resulting in the database being updated with a file carrying a simple backdoor. By just surfing the Magento login page, the validation requirements for prospective consumers would be used to initiate the code execution. 

By implementing a default value to the customer_ eav_attribute table, misuse is possible. The host app is tricked into creating a malicious entity, which is then utilized to generate a basic backdoor (api 1.php). As per Sansec, the intruders installed 19 backdoors on the hacked system, which means the affected sites must remove all of them to avoid being targeted in future attacks.

Although thousands of merchants continue to use it, the Magento 1 platform has hit End-of-Life, and Adobe no longer provides security upgrades for the same. As a result, the sites are accessible to a wide range of cyberattacks, putting the clients' sensitive information at risk. These details usually include credit card numbers, mailing addresses, names, phone numbers, and email addresses, as well as anything else required to complete an online order.

All Magento administrators should make sure it is running the most current edition of the platform and upgrade if it is on an older, unsupported version.

Magecart Attacks Surge in the Wild

 

According to a Cyberpion study, several of the world's top corporations in retail, finance, healthcare, power, and many other industries, including Fortune 500, Global 500, and governments, are struggling to avoid Magecart assaults. Magecart is a term used to describe a type of cyber attack wherein cybercriminals compromise third-party code (typically Javascript that runs in browsers) to grab, or scrape, details such as credit card information from web applications (e.g., online checkout software) or webpages that incorporate the code. 

Over the previous two years, the researchers examined over 30,000 flaws and discovered huge shortcomings in existing security platforms and mechanisms for detecting and mitigating Magecart assaults. 

There have also been significant gaps in firms revealing to their customers' security vulnerabilities or exploits happening throughout their digital supply chains, putting all linked organizations at risk of a breach. 

“Our conclusion from the analysis is that as of today, organizations fail to face Magecart threats and detect the vulnerabilities and exploits that hackers leverage to conduct these attacks,” said Cyberpion CEO Nethanel Gelernter. 

“Victims are often the last to know as it’s only later that organizations find that their data was sold or exploited, with the problem extending beyond any single vendor or client relationship. For enterprises, in particular, Magecart attacks pose a significant challenge because it is problematic to set up a solution at scale.” 

Alongside Web, skimming has also been on the surge. It is indeed a danger to online businesses and customers, with cyberattacks significantly affecting firms such as British Airways and Ticketmaster in 2018, Forbes in 2019, as well as local US government portals and messaging app Telegram in 2020. 

At least one of the top five firms in a variety of industries – retail, insurance, financial services, pharma, media, security, and others – were discovered to be susceptible or exploited. And over 1000 online stores are exposed, putting their consumers at risk of being skimmed. Many of the most widely circulated worldwide newspapers were discovered to be susceptible, frequently via their main page. 

Some weak or mistreated businesses deploy anti-Magecart solutions, however, they may be circumvented. Vendor architecture exposes numerous other linked businesses to Magecart, but suppliers frequently fail to notify customers early enough so that preventative action may be taken. In one example, a major internet advertising network impacted 15 worldwide insurance firms, as well as hundreds of smaller businesses.

Stolen Credit Card Data Hidden in Images by Magecart Hackers for Vague Exfiltration

 

Magecart-affiliated cybercriminals have adopted a new approach for obfuscating malware code within comment blocks and embedding stolen credit card data into pictures and other files stored on the site, illustrating how attackers are always upgrading their infection chains to avoid detection. 

Sucuri Security Analyst, Ben Martin, stated in a write-up, "One tactic that some Magecart actors employ is the dumping of swiped credit card details into image files on the server [to] avoid raising suspicion. These can later be downloaded using a simple GET request at a later date." 

Magecart is an umbrella name for several gangs of hackers that attack e-commerce websites intending to steal credit card data and sell them on the black market by injecting malicious JavaScript skimmers. 

Sucuri connected the assault to Magecart Group 7 based on similarities in the threat actor's techniques, methods, and practices (TTPs). The skimmer was located in one of the PHP files involved in the checkout process in the form of a Base64-encoded compressed string in one instance of a Magento e-commerce website infection analyzed by the GoDaddy-owned security business. 

Furthermore, the attackers are claimed to have utilized a method known as concatenation, in which the code was merged with extra comment portions that "does not functionally do anything but adds a layer of obfuscation making it more difficult to detect.” 

The attacks' ultimate objective is to collect customers' payment card information in real-time on the hacked website, which is then stored to a fake style sheet file (.CSS) on the server and then downloaded by the threat actor via a GET request. 

Martin added, "Magecart is an ever-growing threat to e-commerce websites. From the perspective of the attackers: the rewards are too large and consequences non-existent, why wouldn't they? Literal fortunes are made [by] stealing and selling stolen credit cards on the black market."

Visa: Hackers Use Web Shells to Compromise Servers and Steal Credit Card Details

Visa, a global payment processor has warned that hackers are on the rise in deploying web shells in infected servers to steal credit card information from online customers. A kind of tools  (scripts or programs) Web Shells are used by hackers to infiltrate into compromised, deploy remote execute arbitrary commands or codes, traverse secretly within victim's compromised network, or attach extra payloads (malicious). Since last year, VISA has witnessed an increase in the use of web shells to deploy java-script-based files termed as credit card skimming into breached online platforms in digital skimming (also known as web skimming, e-skimming, or Magecart attacks).  

If successful, the skimmers allow the hackers to extradite payment information, and personal data posted by breached online platform customers and then transfer it to their controlled severs. According to VISA, "throughout 2020, Visa Payment Fraud Disruption (PFD) identified a trend whereby many e-skimming attacks used web shells to establish a command and control (C2)during the attacks. PFD confirmed at least 45 eskimming attacks in 2020 using web shells, and security researchers similarly noted increasing web shell use across the wider information security threat landscape."

As per VISA PFD findings, most Magecart hackers used web shells to plant backdoors in compromised online store servers and build a c2c (command and control) infrastructure which lets the hackers steal the credit card information. The hackers used various approaches to hack the online shops' servers, exploiting vulnerabilities in unsafe infrastructure (administrative), apps/website plugins related to e-commerce, and unpatched/out-of-date e-commerce websites. These Visa findings were confirmed earlier this February when Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (APT) team revealed that these web shells implanted on compromised servers have grown as much as twice since last year.  

"The company's security researchers discovered an average of 140,000 such malicious tools on hacked servers every month, between August 2020 to January 2021," reports Bleeping Computer.  "In comparison, Microsoft said in a 2020 report that it detected an average of 77,000 web shells each month, based on data collected from roughly 46,000 distinct devices between July and December 2019," it further says.

Hackers Attack Online Stores Stealing Credit Card Data, Experts Allege North Korea


According to the recent findings, there has been an incident of web skimming attacks on the European and American online store websites. The hackers responsible for the attacks are likely to be state-sponsored from North Korea. Research conducted by cybersecurity experts at Sansec reveals that the web skimming attacks that broke into the online retail stores started in May 2019. APT Lazarus and Hidden Cobra hacking groups were responsible for the attacks, planting payment skimmers to breach the security.



According to the new research, the hackers have now increased their activities. They have now set a larger target area and attack online stores using a skimming script, which steals the customer's banking credentials during the checkout stage. The researchers from Sansec claim that the attacks were carried out by Hidden Cobra because a similar hacking pattern was used in their previous attacks.

What is Magecart Attack? 
It is a web skimming attack in which hackers can steal banking credentials from the user and credit card details. However, in this incident, Hidden Cobra, after gaining access, launched a large scale attack on big online retail stores. Once hackers have unauthorized access, they deploy fake scripts on the websites' checkout pages. The skimmer then stores all the credentials that the user types during the checkout stage and sends it to the main Hidden Cobra servers. According to Sances data, in millions of online stores, up to 100 stores' websites are compromised on an average every day.

"To monetize the skimming operations, HIDDEN COBRA developed a global exfiltration network. This network utilizes legitimate sites that were hijacked and repurposed to serve as disguises for criminal activity. The system is also used to funnel the stolen assets so that they can be sold on dark web markets. Sansec has identified a number of these exfiltration nodes, including a modeling agency8 from Milan, a vintage music store9 from Tehran, and a family-run book store10 from New Jersey," says the Sansec report. Experts have now linked various attacks since 2019 to Hidden Cobra, say that the threat actors are very likely to be state-sponsored.