March 15, 2018

Kaspersky Lab finds Prilex POS malware evolving to target chip and PIN-protected cards

Kaspersky Lab researchers have revealed that the group behind the Prilex point-of-sale (POS) malware can now turn stolen credit card data into functional plastic cards.

Woburn, MA – March 15, 2018 – Kaspersky Lab researchers have revealed that the group behind the Prilex point-of-sale (POS) malware can now turn stolen credit card data into functional plastic cards. The evolved threat, which currently operates in Latin America, is notable for its supportive, user-friendly business model that makes it easy for cybercriminals to launch attacks.

The use of ‘smart’ chip and PIN protected payment cards has spread globally over the last decade, and its growing adoption has inevitably attracted the attention of cybercriminals. Kaspersky Lab researchers monitoring financial cybercrime in Latin America have found that the Prilex malware has evolved to target this technology.

The Prilex malware has been active since 2014, and researchers have seen it migrate its efforts from ATM hacks to attacks on POS systems developed by Brazilian vendors, and now to using stolen credit card information to create functional plastic cards. The plastic cards allow a criminal to perform fraudulent transactions in any store, whether online or offline. This is the first time that the researchers have seen in the wild such a full suite of tools for carrying out fraud. The cloned credit card works in any POS system in Brazil due to a faulty implementation of the EMV standard where not all data is verified during the approval process.

From a technical perspective, the Prilex malware is comprised of three components: malware that modifies the POS system and intercepts the credit card information; a server used to manage the illegally obtained information; and a user application that the malware ‘client’ can use to view, clone or save statistics related to the cards (such as how much has been stolen using that card). This is the most notable feature of the malware: its associated business model, where all the users’ needs are taken into account, including the need for a simple and user-friendly interface.

The evidence suggests the malware is distributed through the traditional postal service, convincing victims to grant computer access to the criminals for a remote support session, which is then used to install the malware. Most victims observed to date tend to be traditional shops, such as gas stations, supermarkets and typical retail markets, all located in Brazil.

“We are dealing here with a completely new malware, one that offers attackers everything from a graphic user interface to well-designed modules that can be used to create different credit card structures,” said Thiago Marques, security analyst, Kaspersky Lab. “Chip and PIN technology is still relatively new in some parts of the world, such as the U.S., and people may lack awareness of the risk of credit card cloning and abuse. In Brazil, the evolved Prilex malware takes advantage of a faulty implementation of industry standards – highlighting the importance of developing secure, futureproof standards for payment technologies.”

For further information, please see the full report on Securelist.

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