“Keeper” Magecart Group Infects 570 Sites — Gemini Advisory Researchers

Yesterday, Gemini Advisory released a report on some of its research into what they are calling the “Keeper” Magecart Group. Their findings are simultaneously impressive and concerning.  From their report, this summary of their key findings:

  • Gemini discovered that the “Keeper” Magecart group, which consists of an interconnected network of 64 attacker domains and 73 exfiltration domains, has targeted over 570 victim e-commerce sites in 55 different countries from April 1, 2017 until the present. The Keeper exfiltration and attacker domains use identical login panels and are linked to the same dedicated server; this server hosts both the malicious payload and the exfiltrated data stolen from victim sites.
  • Over 85% of the victim sites operated on the Magento CMS, which is known to be the top target for Magecart attacks and boasts over 250,000 users worldwide.
CMS distibution of Keeper Magecart victims
CMS distribution by victim sites. 85% of Keeper Magecart victims are Magento sites. The country hosting the largest selection of these victim e-commerce sites was the United States, followed by the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Image: Gemini Advisory.
  • Gemini uncovered an unsecured access log on the Keeper control panel with 184,000 compromised cards with time stamps ranging from July 2018 to April 2019. Extrapolating the number of cards per nine months to Keeper’s overall lifespan, and given the dark web median price of $10 per compromised Card Not Present (CNP) card, this group has likely generated upwards of $7 million USD from selling compromised payment cards.
  • The Keeper Magecart group has been active for three years, over which time it has continually improved its technical sophistication and the scale of its operations. Based on this pattern of successful Magecart attacks, Gemini assesses with high confidence that Keeper is likely to continue launching increasingly sophisticated attacks against online merchants across the world.

If the vast majority of victims are using the Magento CMS, what should site owners be doing that they are not doing, and do consumers need to just avoid sites that use Magento?  DataBreaches put some questions to Gemini Advisory. Gemini’s Intelligence Production Analyst responded to my first question:

The best thing that sites can do to avoid being breached via Magecart attacks is to regularly patch and update their systems. Older or unpatched systems have more vulnerabilities; Magecart attacks specifically target these vulnerabilities, and after an initial successful exploit they are often circulated across the dark web so that more cybercriminals can follow suit. Regular patching and updating is the best way to keep pace with the “arms race” between hackers and security providers.

So far, then, the advice is pretty much the usual advice: patch and update promptly. Recognizing, however, that some zero-day exploits can compromise sites before the appropriate patches are available, he commented:

That makes it important for a merchant to regularly monitor its site to identify infections early. If your site reaches out to other sites that you find suspicious or irregular, it may be a part of a Magecart attack.

I don’t know what percent of e-commerce sites belonging to SMBs regularly monitor to see if their site is reaching out to other sites that might be suspicious, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a minority.

It is also important to note that while 85.2% of the sites compromised by Keeper’s breaches used Magento, the remainder used four other platforms.These other platforms may not be invulnerable to attack, but they are breached far less frequently than Magento is (including those of comparable size and popularity). Even new Magento versions appear to have higher numbers of vulnerabilities than the other platforms, so switching to an alternative like WordPress could improve a site’s security.

In response to my question as to what consumers could or might do to protect themselves from becoming a Magecart victim, he answered:

Consumers concerned about their payment card data can avoid Magento in favor of other platforms with less frequent breaches (such as WordPress). However, since sites do not publish their security policies, consumers do
not know how often each individual merchant monitors for infections or how robust their security posture may be.

DataBreaches.net also asked whether the researchers had found evidence that the threat actors were exploiting a number of vulnerabilities that had been reported in April Gemini’s Director of Research and Development tackled that one:

Based on previous research, remote code execution vulnerabilities used for Magecart attacks are fairly frequent in Magento. This is especially true of the first series (such as version 1.9). Each individual site often has multiple vulnerabilities, giving the attackers several ways to gain
access.

As a consumer, I’ve never really paid attention to what CMS an e-commerce site was using. Maybe it’s time I started paying attention.

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