Skip to main content

Security firm traces Target malware to Russia

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and David Goldman, CNN
updated 5:50 AM EST, Tue January 21, 2014
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
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 1:00 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
China's Xi Jinping and India's Narendra Modi, leaders of the most populous nations face similar challenges. Can they learn from each other?
updated 6:36 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
The U.S. is not returning combat troops to Iraq, President Barack Obama insists.
updated 8:38 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
A man abducted alongside killed U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff tells CNN that no one from the U.S. government has tried to talk with him.
updated 11:08 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mulatu Astatke is the founding father of ethio-jazz: a fusion of Ethiopian music with western jazz.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Have you been to these? The global museum list, released Tuesday, ranks 25 of the world's best museums.
updated 1:03 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
iOS 8, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, comes with new features that you'll enjoy.
updated 5:27 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Psychedelic drugs are being researched as a potential treatment for conditions ranging from anxiety to tobacco and alcohol addiction.
updated 9:42 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
It's a surfer's paradise -- but Diah Rahayu is out on her own when it comes to professional women's wave-riding in Bali.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 12:20 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT