Just in time for the holidays.
An article came out this past week regarding botnets that are specifically targeting point of sale (POS) systems. The reason I bring this up is because of this quote.
“StarDust developers have intimate knowledge of the inner workings of PoS applications such as Clearview PoS. As a result, the malware can ferret out where in computer memory sensitive data, in some cases in cleartext form, is stored. StarDust can also sniff network traffic and is able to extract Track1 and Track2 card data. To remain covert, the software transfers card details only when the terminal is inactive and the screensaver is on. It also uses the RC4 cipher to encrypt data before sending it to the control server.”
Obviously, if your organization uses Clearview POS software you should probably be examining your systems and networks to ensure that they have not been compromised by StarDust.
However, the larger issue is that most merchants do not see themselves as targets of such attacks, let alone have they constructed a secure environment for their POS systems. Some of this is not entirely the merchant’s fault. A lot of merchants outsource the maintenance and management of their POS systems to a value added reseller (VAR) and that VAR is the one responsible for the POS network configuration. Regardless of responsibility, a merchant needs to be aware of these threats and take appropriate action either internally or with their VAR to address these threats and minimize risk.
Regardless of whether it is StarDust or a similar threat, here are some steps you can take to minimize and detect such threats.
- Segment your POS network from the rest of your internal network and limit POS network segment traffic to only communication to your processor and internal network and system support and operations systems. This will require the development of network access rules so that traffic can only reach your processor or internal system support and operations systems. This will limit the number of systems that could compromise your POS environment.
- Monitor your POS network segment for any traffic that is directed to an external network other than your processor or system support and operations systems. Your firewall rules should only allow secure connections between your POS network and your processor or your system support and operations systems. Network traffic going anywhere else should be stopped and reported for further investigation.
- Monitor your POS systems for any file or configuration changes. Most anti-virus solutions can provide this capability, but there are also solutions that are specifically engineered for this task. Regardless of which you choose, configure the tool to alert you as soon as it identifies a potential change to files or configuration of the POS system. If approved changes were not made to the POS systems and you received an alert, you likely have been compromised.
- Develop an incident response plan should you receive an alert indicating that your POS systems have been compromised. An incident response plan provides the organization with a “battle plan” should a compromise occur. This type of plan is key to minimize the potential reputational impact to the organization should such an attack be confirmed. A good incident response plan can keep you from making mistakes as you navigate the mine field that is the media circus that comes with a breach.
Three straight forward and simple steps that can minimize the threat of StarDust and a documented incident response process should you unfortunately be breached.
Security does not have to be rocket science.