News

Screen-Capture Trojans Ramp Up

In hopes of fighting Internet fraud, some online banking sites make customers use "virtual keypads" -- a method of entering passwords on the screen, generally with a mouse.

The system is designed to thwart keystroke-logging programs that capture everything a user types. Now those virtual keypads appear just as vulnerable to snoops.

A Spanish security company, Hispasec Systems, has revealed details of "Trojan horse" programs that can capture video imagery of an unsuspecting person's computer use. If the user enters a PIN on a bank's virtual keypad, the dastardly program is a witness.

Like most Trojan horses, the ones detected by Hispasec are slipped onto users' computers when they visit certain Web sites, often through spam links, said Hispasec researcher Bernardo Quintero. Often, users have no clue if they were hit. When Quintero's group tested whether more than 30 anti-virus programs would block a recent video-logging Trojan, only six did so.

Gartner Inc. security analyst Avivah Litan said screen-capture programs that attacked virtual keypads emerged as early as 2003, when banks in Brazil fell prey. She said the technique has remained relatively rare because the programs consume a lot of bandwidth and storage, and there have tended to be a lot of easier targets.

But that may be changing. Quintero said Wednesday that a newly detected Trojan combines keystroke-logging and video-capture functions -- and instead of recording the entire screen, the program just grabs images of the immediate area near where the user clicks the mouse. The spy receives a smaller file, making the attack easier to pull off.

All this points to an enduring security truth: No single measure -- especially one that is apparent to fraud artists -- is likely to guarantee safety.

Litan says banks would be wise to focus more resources on behind-the-scenes software that can analyze Web banking sessions to gauge their legitimacy.

"Banks should stop implementing patchwork solutions and get it right the first time," she said.

Featured

  • Windows 10 Mobile To Fall Out of Support in December

    Microsoft will end support for the Windows 10 Mobile operating system on Dec. 10, 2019, according to an announcement.

  • Get More Out of Your Outlook Inbox with TakeNote

    Brien comes across a handy, but imperfect, feature in Outlook that lets you annotate specific e-mails. Its provenance is something of a mystery, though.

  • Microsoft Resumes Rerelease of Windows 10 Version 1809

    Microsoft on Wednesday once more resumed its general rollout of the Windows 10 version 1809 upgrade, also known as the "October 2018 Update."

  • Microsoft Ups Its Windows 10 App Compatibility Assurances

    Microsoft gave assurances this week that organizations adopting Windows 10 likely won't face application compatibility issues.

comments powered by Disqus
Most   Popular

Office 365 Watch

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.