Skip to main content

Security firm traces Target malware to Russia

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and David Goldman, CNN
January 21, 2014 -- Updated 1050 GMT (1850 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: IntelCrawler updates report, says Russian teenager not solely responsible for attack
  • Target breach imperiled credit card numbers, personal info of millions
  • Teen reportedly shared malware with other hackers
  • Experts warn other breaches could happen

(CNN) -- A security firm that had pointed the finger at a 17-year-old Russian last week updated its report Monday to identify a different Russian resident as being responsible for writing the malware used in an attack compromised the credit card numbers and other personal information of up to 110 million Target customers.

In a statement published Friday, security firm IntelCrawler said the breach was the result of malware that infected Target's payment system and possibly compromised the systems of other retailers. Neiman Marcus reported a similar security breach this month.

The 17-year old does not appear to be solely responsible for the attack. Independent security researcher Brian Krebs earlier reported that other code in the Target hack pointed to a Ukraine resident.

Homeland security warns retailers

Target breach may be tied to Russian mob
Target 'grinched' for Christmas

Experts say the author may have shared it with others.

"Well, we should be worried. One of the things the hackers do is take the malware as it's called. Once it's identified, then the security community can rally around it and put controls in place. But the problem is, the hackers know that. And they manipulate or mutate this malware, and then reuse it," SecureState CEO Ken Stasiak said.

"We believe that he originated the code, or the malware everybody's calling it now. And was able to put it up on the Internet for download for other hackers to then take, and potentially use it for malicious harm. And that's what we believe happened to Target and Neiman Marcus."

The first sample of the malware was created in March and since then, more than 40 versions have been sold around the world, IntelCrawler said. It first infected retailers' systems in Australia, Canada and the United States.

Hack is a wake-up call on privacy

Andrew Komarov, IntelCrawler CEO, said most of the victims are department stores and said more BlackPOS infections as well as new breaches could appear soon. Retailers should be prepared.

"The numbers could be staggering, really, because what the retailers are looking at are potential class action lawsuits," CNN legal analyst Paul Callan said.

"Let's say hypothetically, a retailer has 40 million transactions by 40 million different customers. All 40 million may have been damaged in some way, and under law they can all be joined together in a class action lawsuit."

Millions getting new cards after hack

CNN's David Goldman and George Howell contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Brazil's oldest foe secures its place in the World Cup final for the first time in more than two decades after defeating the Netherlands on penalties.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Israel has deployed its Iron Dome defense system to halt incoming rockets. Here's how it works.
A high speed train leaves Beijing south railway station on August 11, 2011.
How Beijing built the world's largest high-speed rail network in less than a decade.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1217 GMT (2017 HKT)
CNN's Becky Anderson looks at how practicing underwater is the perfect way to prepare for spacewalks.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0917 GMT (1717 HKT)
An emotional Brazil fan reacts after being defeated by Germany 7-1 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between Brazil and Germany at Estadio Mineirao on July 8, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
Spectacular Germany outplays Brazil to reach the World Cup final with a 7-1 win over the hosts.
Even those who aren't in the line of fire feel the effects of the chaos that has engulfed Iraq since extremists attacked.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0641 GMT (1441 HKT)
CNN's Jim Bittermann takes a look at a family who found the remains of their great- grandfather 100 years later.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0008 GMT (0808 HKT)
Israelis and Palestinians have entered another yet violent cycle of reaction and counterreaction. Here are five things to keep in mind.
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 2318 GMT (0718 HKT)
Traveling to the U.S.? You could be delayed if your electronic device has a dead battery.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 2157 GMT (0557 HKT)
With one hand, Zahra Hassan clutches a purse that matches her red blouse and skirt trimmed in blue. In the other, she holds an AK-47.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT