Online Shoppers Beware! New way of stealing credit card payment information discovered; here is how to stay safe
Researchers at Kaspersky have said that attackers can collect users’ card details by registering for Google Analytics accounts and injecting these accounts’ tracking code into the websites’ source code. About two dozen online stores worldwide were compromised using this method.
Online shopping has picked up following the coronavirus outbreak. As expected it has led to newer challenges with hackers using a new technique for stealing users’ payment information on online shopping websites, through a type of attack known as web skimming. Researchers at Kaspersky have said that attackers can collect users’ card details by registering for Google Analytics accounts and injecting these accounts’ tracking code into the websites’ source code. About two dozen online stores worldwide were compromised using this method.
Web skimming is a popular practice used by attackers to steal users’ credit card details from the payment pages of online stores, whereby attackers inject pieces of code into the source code of the website.
This malicious code then collects the data inputted by visitors to the site (i.e. payment account logins or credit card numbers) and sends the harvested data to the address specified by attackers in the malicious code. Often, to conceal the fact that the webpage has been compromised, attackers register domains with names that resemble popular web analytics services, such as Google Analytics.
When the malicious code is injected, it’s harder for the site administrator to know that the site has been compromised. For example, a site named “googlc-analytics[.]com” is easy to mistake as a legitimate domain.
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Kaspersky said that it has discovered a previously unknown technique for conducting web skimming attacks. Rather than redirecting the data to third-party sources, they redirected it to official Google Analytics accounts. Once the attackers registered their accounts on Google Analytics, all they had to do was configure the accounts’ tracking parameters to receive a tracking ID. They then injected the malicious code along with the tracking ID into the webpage’s source code, allowing them to collect data about visitors and have it sent directly to their Google Analytics accounts.
As the data isn’t being directed to an unknown third-party resource, it’s difficult for administrators to realize the site has been compromised. At first, it appears that this could be a usual problem with the Google account.
“This is a technique we have not seen before, and one that is particularly effective. Google Analytics is one of the most popular web analytics services out there. The vast majority of developers and users trust it, meaning it’s frequently given permission to collect user data by site administrators. That makes malicious injects containing Google Analytics accounts inconspicuous—and easy to overlook. As a rule, administrators should not assume that, just because the third-party resource is legitimate, its presence in the code is ok,” Victoria Vlasova, Senior Malware Analyst at Kaspersky explained.
How to stay safe?
Kaspersky experts recommend users to use a reliable security solution which can detect and block malicious scripts from being run or disable Google Analytics altogether using the Safe Browser feature.
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