The "severely" spreading virus of the Trojan family has been detected conducting its clandestine operations at the Point of Sale (POS) counters placed at retail terminals after the RBI made it mandatory in December last year for debit cards holders to punch in their PIN every time they make a purchase.
The virus named "Dexter, black POS, memory dump and grabber" can acquire seven aliases when infecting a system and once it is successful in breaching the security protocols of a POS terminal, it steals confidential data like card holder's name, account number, expiration date, CVV code and other discretionary information which could lead to financially compromising and phishing attacks on the card at a later stage.
"It has been reported that malware campaigns targeting payment card processing, point-of-sale (POS), check out systems or equipment are on the rise.
"The common infection vectors for POS system malwares includes phishing emails or social engineering techniques to deliver the malware, use of default or weak credentials, unauthorised access, open wireless networks along with the methods of installing malware as a part of service," a latest advisory issued to the public by the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-India) said.
The CERT-In is the nodal department to protect Indian cyberspace and software base infrastructure against any destructive and hacking activities.
The virus is so potent and deadly that once it steals the sensitive data it quietly exits the infected machine without leaving much trail of its existence.
"The malware has routines to collect and parse personal sensitive information from the running processes in memory by enumerating the POS related processes and has procedure to exfiltrate directly without interim storing in the hard disk," the advisory said.
In order to save debit cards from financial frauds and loss of hard earned money of the holder, the RBI had made it mandatory for punching of the PIN of the customer at the POS, which is nothing but an individuals ATM PIN.
A senior official working in the counter-cyber attacks department said while customers should be vigilant about their debit and credit cards activities at sale counters swiping, POS terminals should also firm up their defence mechanisms so that their systems are not compromised.
The agency has suggested some counter-measures against these malware attacks.
"Keep all POS computers thoroughly updated including POS application software, restrict access on POS systems to POS related activities only, ensure the networks where the POS systems reside are properly segmented from non-payment network and restrictive policies on usage should be deployed and enforced," the agency recommended.
The agency also pointed out that POS counters should "maintain good security policy on the POS computers (including physical access), disable autorun or autoplay, install and scan anti-malware engines and keep them up-to-date and exercise caution while visiting links within emails received from untrusted users or unexpectedly received from trusted users while also enabling firewall at desktop and gateway level."