Research by Security Company Symantec has revealed that high profile companies such as BA and Ticketmaster are among the many thousands of businesses whose websites are being targeted with “form-jacking” attacks every month.

What Is Form-Jacking?

Form-jacking involves inserting a small amount of malicious JavaScript code into the checkout web pages of e-commerce sites, thereby allowing attackers to monitor payment card information being entered and to then syphon that information off.

When a user hits the submit button on a checkout page that contains the malicious code, the user’s payment and personal details are sent to an attacker’s servers where the attacker can use this information to perform payment card fraud or sell these details on to other criminals on the dark web.

Pages that have been compromised in this way aren’t easy to spot, and to the naked eye, the checkout process looks normal.

How Big Is The Problem?

Symantec claims to have stopped more than 3.7 million form-jacking attacks in 2017, and between August and September 2018, the company says that it blocked 248,000 attempts at form-jacking.  The fact that 36% of these blocks took place from September 13th to September 20th was an indicator that form-jacking attempts were escalating towards the end of last year.

Symantec reports that 4,800 websites are being hit by form-jacking attacks every month.

Examples

High profile examples of victims of form-jacking given by Symantec include British Airways and Ticketmaster who were both targeted by the ‘Magecart’ hacking group.

The attack on British Airways saw the Magecart attackers set up a spoof web domain designed to look like those of the legitimate company, and even purchase paid SSL certificates from Comodo to make it look more legitimate. Magecart was present on British Airway’s website from August 21 to September 5, and the 22 lines of digital skimming JavaScript code that it took to operate the form-jacking attack affected 380,000 transactions.  In the BA attack, the vital customer data was skimmed and stolen in a fraction of a second between the time the customer put the mouse over the submit button and before the data had a chance to reach BA’s servers as the customer clicked on the button.

In the case of Ticketmaster attack, which took place in June, attackers first compromised a chatbot from tech firm Inbenta that was used for customer support on Ticketmaster websites.  This chatbot then provided the way in for the Magecart attackers which enabled them to alter the JavaScript code on Ticketmaster’s websites so that payment card data from customers could be captured and sent to their servers.  It is thought that the form-jacking code remained undetected on Ticketmaster’s website from September 2017 to June 2018.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Cybercriminals have found that better back-up practices by businesses and home users have made attacks like ransomware less likely to pay, so may have moved into form-jacking. The fact that it only requires the insertion of a relatively small amount of JavaScript and that it can be very difficult to detect make it an attractive new way to get paid for many criminals.

Companies can use network-based and file-based protection against form-jacking, and ways to stop attackers getting in to inject the code include using firewalls to block all incoming connections from the internet to services that should not be publicly available, enforcing a (complex) password policy, turning off file sharing if not needed, turning off and removing unnecessary services, keeping patching up to date, and configuring email servers to block or remove emails that contains file attachments that are commonly used to spread threats e.g. .vbs, .bat, .exe, .pif and .scr files.

Also, companies should guard against software supply chain attacks by testing new updates, even seemingly legitimate ones, in small test/sandbox environments, and by monitoring the behaviour of all activity on a system to help identify any unwanted patterns.