Backoff Point-of-Sale Malware
Posted: 1 August 2014 | Source: United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team
This advisory was prepared in collaboration with the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), United States Secret Service (USSS), Financial Sector Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), and Trustwave Spiderlabs, a trusted partner under contract with the USSS. The purpose of this release is to provide relevant and actionable technical indicators for network defense.
Recent investigations revealed that malicious actors are using publicly available tools to locate businesses that use remote desktop applications. Remote desktop solutions like Microsoft's Remote Desktop  Apple Remote Desktop, Chrome Remote Desktop, Splashtop 2, Pulseway, and LogMEIn Join.Me offer the convenience and efficiency of connecting to a computer from a remote location. Once these applications are located, the suspects attempted to brute force the login feature of the remote desktop solution. After gaining access to what was often administrator or privileged access accounts, the suspects were then able to deploy the point-of-sale (PoS) malware and subsequently exfiltrate consumer payment data via an encrypted POST request.
USSS, NCCIC/US-CERT and Trustwave Spiderlabs have been working together to characterize newly identified malware dubbed "Backoff", associated with several PoS data breach investigations. At the time of discovery and analysis, the malware variants had low to zero percent anti-virus detection rates, which means that fully updated anti-virus engines on fully patched computers could not identify the malware as malicious.
Similar attacks have been noted in previous PoS malware campaigns  and some studies state that targeting the Remote Desktop Protocol with brute force attacks is on the rise. A Mitigation and Prevention Strategies section is included to offer options for network defenders to consider.
“Backoff” is a family of PoS malware and has been discovered recently. The malware family has been witnessed on at least three separate forensic investigations. Researchers have identified three primary variants to the “Backoff” malware including 1.4, 1.55 (“backoff”, “goo”, “MAY”, “net”), and 1.56 (“LAST”).
These variations have been seen as far back as October 2013 and continue to operate as of July 2014. In total, the malware typically consists of the following four capabilities. An exception is the earliest witnessed variant (1.4) which does not include keylogging functionality. Additionally, 1.55 ‘net’ removed the explorer.exe injection component:
- Scraping memory for track data
- Logging keystrokes
- Command & control (C2) communication
- Injecting malicious stub into explorer.exe
The malicious stub that is injected into explorer.exe is responsible for persistence in the event the malicious executable crashes or is forcefully stopped. The malware is responsible for scraping memory from running processes on the victim machine and searching for track data. Keylogging functionality is also present in most recent variants of “Backoff”. Additionally, the malware has a C2 component that is responsible for uploading discovered data, updating the malware, downloading/executing further malware, and uninstalling the malware.