Over 1,000 major companies and small and medium sized businesses across the US may have been affected by a malware package dubbed as ‘Backoff.’ This is according to the US Department of Homeland Security or DHS on its last cybersecurity alert this weekend. Worse, most of those businesses may not be aware that their systems have already been compromised.
To set it clear, the Backoff malware is not actually a new virus. It first surfaced in October 2013. Once it intrudes a system, it can scrap the memory of any point of sales (POS) system or cash registers plus other terminals found in store checkouts. It targets information from swiped credit cards, communications to remote servers, and keyboard and logging keystrokes.
In fact, over the last year, the US Secret Service has already identified network intrusions at various businesses throughout the country that were infected by the malware. At least seven POS system vendors and providers have already confirmed being affected.
To illustrate how dangerous Backoff malware is, the experts assert their theories that it could be the one responsible for the previous data breaches that hit Target, UPS stores, and SuperValu supermarkets. Consequently, the Secret Service is continuously searching for potential new infections.
The data breach that previously affected Target could be considered as among the biggest cyber anomalies in history. It resulted to compromised data of millions of credit cards and debit cards. Recently, SuperValu admitted that up to 180 of its locations had already been affected by the data breach. Just earlier this week, UPS revealed that about 51 of its stores have already been hit by the same infection.
During the last week of July, DHS already released warnings about possible Backoff malware infections. It also warned that the malware may not be detected by most of the current antivirus programs used by businesses. Thus, it could be very difficult to curtail by that time especially as antivirus applications are the most commonly used measures to fight malware and other PC viruses.
Fortunately, most antivirus packages could now detect the presence of Backoff malware. But DHS still recommends network operators to facilitate necessary actions immediately to make sure that they have not been affected yet.
The Secret Service has also started contacting those businesses that may have already been affected by the malware. It continuously monitors and helps those companies to prevent major setbacks.