Magecart skimmers are targeting large public Wi-Fi networks for payment details

Russian-linked cyber criminals are compromising industrial-sized routers for their large data banks

Security researchers have observed Magecart skimmers being used actively on routers designed to support public access networks in order to steal payment information.

The findings were made by experts from IBM's X-Force IRIS team and relate specifically to layer 7 (L7) routers which are typically deployed by businesses such as hotels so many customers can access the network at once.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The researchers said that targeting the industries that use L7 routers is common practice for cyber criminals due to "the rich customer data they possess, which often includes payment card data as well - a hallmark of the Magecart conglomerate".

Magecart-related malware began as code injected into websites and of the twelve known Magecart-affiliated groups, Magecart group 5 (MG5) is the most prominent and the group the researchers believe to be behind the router attack.

The Magecart group are perhaps best known for their high-profile attacks on British Airways, Ticketmaster and Newegg in a highly lucrative formjacking campaign that contributed to the ICO's intention to fine BA 183 million under the GDPR.

Researchers attributed the attack to MG5 based on two JavaScript skimmer file samples they found to have the same author, deliberate naming scheme and upload location of Murino, Russia.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The investigation began as a result of finding MG5-linked code on VirusTotal, a black hat favourite for checking if code was being actively monitored or had been detected.

Advertisement - Article continues below

One script which particularly caught the attention of the researchers was "test4.html", 17 different versions of which had been uploaded from the same group and location, but with minor alterations. Some of these had "catch" in their file name and these files seemed to contain newly inserted try-catch error handling in order to evade detection.

It was based off an old script previously discovered in 2012 called "advnads20.js" - code linked with previous (albeit benign) JavaScript injection of online ads into any and all web pages viewed over hotel Wi-Fi access.

"Injecting JavaScript payloads into the connections of unsuspecting hotel guests is a huge win for scammers looking to gain access to sensitive data or resources," Craig Young, computer security researcher for Tripwire's vulnerability and exposure research team to IT Pro.

"Consider for example someone using the WiFi from a hotel while on a business trip to a satellite office. JavaScript loaded from this hotel WiFi may actually remain executing (through WebWorkers or open tabs) the following morning when the same computer is connected to the corporate intranet. This JavaScript can now, to some extent, relay connections through the unsuspecting employee laptop and onto network resources."

Advertisement - Article continues below

The researchers said the Magecart skimmers aim to inject malicious web resources into the L7 routers as well as injecting malicious adverts that users may have to click in order to access the public network. In doing so, guest payment data can be stolen if they browse through a compromised router.

Ecommerce sites and banks have been advised of the malicious campaign by IBM's researchers and to make necessary changes to protect their customers.

Featured Resources

Top 5 challenges of migrating applications to the cloud

Explore how VMware Cloud on AWS helps to address common cloud migration challenges

Download now

3 reasons why now is the time to rethink your network

Changing requirements call for new solutions

Download now

All-flash buyer’s guide

Tips for evaluating Solid-State Arrays

Download now

Enabling enterprise machine and deep learning with intelligent storage

The power of AI can only be realised through efficient and performant delivery of data

Download now



10 quick tips to identifying phishing emails

16 Mar 2020
mergers and acquisitions

Panda Security to be acquired by WatchGuard

9 Mar 2020
internet security

Avast and AVG extensions pulled from Chrome

19 Dec 2019

Google confirms Android cameras can be hijacked to spy on you

20 Nov 2019

Most Popular


Zoom kills Facebook integration after data transfer backlash

30 Mar 2020
Server & storage

HPE warns of 'critical' bug that destroys SSDs after 40,000 hours

26 Mar 2020

These are the companies offering free software during the coronavirus crisis

25 Mar 2020
cyber crime

FBI warns of ‘Zoom-bombing’ hackers amid coronavirus usage spike

31 Mar 2020