Cybercrime gang adds new tactics to credit card data-stealing campaign

FIN8 is distributing new malware as part of its ongoing goal of stealing and selling payment information from customers of retailers and the hospitality sector.

Point-of-sale malware is thriving and retailers are not helping They're some of the simplest forms of cyberattacks out there, but credit card stealing POS malware remains highly effective.

A hacking operation has deployed new malware in the latest evolution of its campaign to make money by stealing credit card data.

The FIN8 cybercrime group was first identified in January 2016, and typically targets point-of-sale (POS) systems with malware attacks designed to steal credit card information, which is then sold on for profit on dark web underground forums. The nature of the attacks means retailers and the hospitality sector are common targets.

FIN8 appeared to disappear for two years before re-emerging in June. The group seems to have started where it left off, continuing to evolve and adapt malicious tools to improve the success of its campaigns. Hundreds of organizations are thought to have fallen victim to FIN8 campaigns since the group first emerged.

The latest evolution of FIN8's attacks has been detailed by cybersecurity researchers at Gigamon. The security company has uncovered Badhatch -- a previously-unreported form of malware used as part of the financial hacking group's latest campaign.

Badhatch is deployed to stealthily explore victim networks, as well as distributing additional malware like PoSlurp, a credit card information-scraper which steals details of cards swiped through POS systems.

Researchers have managed to reverse-engineer the malware and uncover its capabilities; it looks to work alongside other backdoors used by FIN8.

"Badhatch is complimentary in nature to their previous tools, providing an additional remote access capability using an alternate command and control channel," Justin Warner, director of applied threat research at Gigamon, told ZDNet.

"Adversaries frequently deploy multiple backdoors to provide a secondary foothold in the case of detection, or to utilize a capability that enables them in a different way."

Badhatch attacks are believed to begin like previous FIN8 malware campaigns -- like PunchBuggy/ PowerSniff -- with customized phishing emails which deliver a malicious Microsoft Word document containing PowerShell scripts. When executed, the scripts lead to the installation of a backdoor.

SEE: A winning strategy for cybersecurity (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

Like previous forms of FIN8 malware, the malicious payloads appear to be custom-built by the attackers.

Security researchers have noted that Badhatch shares similarities with PowerSniff, but also contains a number of new capabilities. These include the use of a different command and control communication protocol and an added ability to inject commands into processes, as well as the flexibility for more tooling to be added at a later date if required.

However, unlike PowerSniff, Badhatch doesn't include measures to avoid sandbox detection. This is likely because it's designed to be deployed post-compromise and therefore FIN8 has greater control over how the tool is exposed and can avoid situations that typically result in automated sandboxing.

The appearance of another new form of malware from FIN8 demonstrates how determined the group is to remain at the top of its game.

"The constant evolution and modification of their toolset speaks to the adaptiveness and likely dynamic nature of the group, and certainly sets them apart from many financially-motivated actors that leverage the same tools in the same exact configurations for every campaign," said Warner.

"Ultimately, FIN8 and all organized cybercrime groups are looking to make as much money as possible," he added.

For FIN8 and other financially-driven criminals, simple malware attacks targeting point-of-sale systems remain a lucrative opportunity because in many cases, they're running on legacy software which is difficult to patch -- if it can be patched at all.

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