CenterPOS – The evolution of POS malware

Posted on Updated on

Security Experts at FireEye discovered a new strain of POS malware dubbed CenterPOS that is threatening the retail systems.

In the last 2/3 years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of POS malware, their diffusion is becoming even more worrying. We read about many high-profile breaches that involved high-complex malware targeting payment systems worldwide.

Today we catch up with CenterPOS, a malicious code under investigation of FireEye experts. This fairly new malware was discovered in September 2015 in a folder that contained other POS malware, including NewPoSThings, two Alina variants known as “Spark” and “Joker,” and the infamous BlackPOSmalware.

CenterPOS malware 1

The sample analyzed by FireEye is identified with an internal version number 1.7 and contains a “memory scraper that iterates through running processes in order to extract payment card information. The payment card information is transferred to a command and control (CnC) server via HTTP POST”:

Many variants of the malware version 1.7 were found, associated with different CC locations:

CenterPOS malware 2

FireEye even discovered a live CnC server that show that in the underground the malware is known as “Cerebrus”( don’t mix it with the RAT also known as Cerberus):( don’t mix it with the RAT also known as Cerberus):

Besides the version 1.7, a version 2.0 was found, and it’s very similar with 1.7 with the difference that in version 2.0 its used a config file to store the information related to the CC server.

“The malware contains two modes for scraping memory and looking for credit card information, a “smart scan” mode and a “normal scan” mode. The “normal scan” mode will act nearly the same as v1.7”

The CenterPOS scans all processes searching for those that meets the following criteria:

  • The process is not the current running process.
  • The process name is not in the ignore list.
  • The process name is not “system,” “system idle process,” or “idle.”
  • The process file version info does not contain “microsoft,” “apple inc,” “adobe systems,” “intel corporation,” “vmware,” “mozilla,” or “host process for windows services.”
  • The process full path’s SHA-256 hash is not in the SHA-256 blacklist.

If a process meets the criteria ” the malware will search all memory regions within the process searching for credit card data with regular expressions in the regular expression list.”

Moving on to the “smart scan”, this scan is initiated with a normal scan, and “any process that has a regular expression match will be added to the “smart scan” list. After the first pass, the malware will only search the processes that are in the “smart scan” list.”

“After each iteration of scanning all process memory, the malware takes any data that matches and encrypts it using TripleDES with the key found in the configuration file.”

The malware sends information to the CC server about the “hacked” system including the current settings, always after a performed scan. The collected info includes all system users, logged in users, sessions, process list, and current settings list. The info is send by a separate HTTP POST request.

” The malware primarily sends data to the CnC server, but can also receive commands and in addition to processing commands, the malware also accepts commands to update its current settings.”

The next table includes data related the variants of the CenterPOS version 2.0 found by FireEye:

CenterPOS malware 3

As I referred in the beginning of the article, many POS malware were found in the last 2/3 years and this is related with the huge demand criminal underground. Retailers represent a privileged target to steal payment card information and get money.

CenterPOS or Cerebrus, as will likely continue to evolve, their authors will include more functionalities in future versions.

If you feel interested to get more details, please visit FireEye blog, here.

About the Author Elsio Pinto

Elsio Pinto (@high54security) is at the moment the Lead McAfee Security Engineer at Swiss Re, but he also as knowledge in the areas of malware research, forensics, ethical hacking. He had previous experiences in major institutions being the European Parliament one of them. He is a security enthusiast and tries his best to pass his knowledge. He also owns his own blog McAfee Security Engineer at Swiss Re, but he also as knowledge in the areas of malware research, forensics, ethical hacking. He had previous experiences in major institutions being the European Parliament one of them. He is a security enthusiast and tries his best to pass his knowledge. He also owns his own blog McAfee Security Engineer at Swiss Re, but he also as knowledge in the areas of malware research, forensics, ethical hacking. He had previous experiences in major institutions being the European Parliament one of them. He is a security enthusiast and tries his best to pass his knowledge.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s