By Digital Shadows CEO and co-founder Alastair Paterson
Online security is increasingly becoming a concern when travelling overseas.
Over the past year, compromises of payment card data from Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, network intrusions against third-party suppliers, and cyber espionage campaigns against visitors using hotel Wi-Fi networks have plagued the travel and hospitality industries.
In the spirit of “forewarned is forearmed”, here is a closer look at some of the most notable examples of each of these types of threats and how firms in these industries can mitigate risk.
Financially-motivated actors seeking to compromise payment card details use malware to extract this data from POS systems or devices as well as physical skimming devices.
Based on the 20 POS malware variants that have been documented and numerous reports of breaches, the travel and hospitality industries have been under siege.
In the last six months alone a new variant, MajikPOS, and modifications to the RawPOS variant and the Zeus banking trojan targeting POS systems, have emerged.
Threat actors focused on these industries include FIN7, TA530 and Vendetta Brothers who each use a range of tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs).
As an example, the threat group FIN7 targets the hospitality industry through the following TTPs:
The most high-profile network intrusion in the past year involved a compromise of the Sabre Corporation, reportedly affecting at least eight hospitality companies.
Through unknown means, the attackers had accessed account credentials that permitted access to payment card data and information for some reservations processed by Sabre’s central reservation system.
The company stated that not all compromised records included CVV numbers, and no personal information, such as social security numbers, passport numbers, or driver’s license numbers were accessed.
This attack demonstrates a trend of third-party supplier attacks in which financially-motivated actors impact multiple companies by compromising their supplier to access sensitive or valuable data.
Wi-Fi network compromise:
Threat actors have also targeted hotel Wi-Fi networks in an information gathering and cyber espionage campaign against travellers to Europe and the Middle East.
Threat actors almost certainly choose to target these networks because they are deemed less secure and can be leveraged to perform additional actions, such as stealing credentials and moving laterally within networks.
In this particular campaign, spearphishing emails were used to deliver information-harvesting malware to victims.
The attackers also purportedly used the EternalBlue exploit, which targets the vulnerable Microsoft Server Message Block (SMB) protocol for lateral movement within target networks.
Here are some steps travellers can take to mitigate risk:
As long as payment card details and other proprietary information remain lucrative on criminal forums and marketplaces, the travel and hospitality industry need to remain vigilant.
But with greater awareness about POS system attacks, operations against third-party suppliers, and the vulnerabilities of public or semi-public Wi-Fi networks, companies can do a lot to mitigate risk and ensure safer journeys for travellers.