Amit Klein (Europe) - How a SpyEye Attack on Verizon Exposes PCI Shortcomings

Trusteer recently discovered a configuration of the SpyEye Trojan targeting Verizon's online payment page and attempting to steal payment card information. The attack took place between May 7th and 13th.

SpyEye uses a technique called "HTML injection" to modify the pages presented in the victim's browser, in this particular case the injected HTML is used to capture the following credit card related data. The attack is invisible to Verizon customers since the malware waits for the user to logon and access their billing page and only then injects an authentic-looking replica webpage that requests this information. Since the user has logged on and has navigated to the familiar billing page they have no reason to suspect this request for payment information is suspicious.

The information stolen includes:

First name,

last name

Street address,

City, state, zip

Phone number,

phone type

Email address

Country of citizenship

Social Security Number

Date of Birth

Mother's Maiden Name
Card number, expiration date and CVV


While this attack is not technically new, it continues a financial malware trend we have been tracking in recent weeks: a shift away from stealing usernames and passwords to stealing payment and credit card data. This practice allows criminals to commit card non present fraud on the Internet, and also makes it more difficult for banks to identify the source of fraudulent transactions since they cannot trace it back to a specific computer.

Whether it's on consumer machines, call center computers, or point of sale systems, attackers are targeting endpoints to steal readily available payment card data. This trend is exposing a major shortcoming in the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS), which only requires endpoints to be running anti-virus software. As we have seen, anti-virus software is unable to effectively defend against zero day attacks.

"There's no easy answer, since most endpoints used to enter payment and credit card data are outside the control of the merchants who process the transactions. One model to consider is the path taken by the growing legion of banks that are supplementing backend risk and fraud management systems with end-user education and browser-based security tools", he said.

With the growing incidence of payment and credit card theft targeting the online properties of service providers, merchants, and e-commerce vendors, the payment card industry should take a closer look at endpoints as the emerging "weak link" in protecting card data against theft and fraud.

Amit Klein is the CTO at Trusteer. He manages the company's Security team which is one of the world's leading financial malware research groups.




« Michel Cordani (Africa) - Mauritius: leading the way for ICT growth in Africa


Will Mutua Mworia (Africa) - 3 Things Foreign Tech Startups Setting up in Africa Should Consider »


Do you think your smartphone is making you a workaholic?