Guest Column | May 21, 2014

Why Hackers Use Malware To Steal Credit Cards

By Brad Cyprus, RSPA PCI/Data Security Committee Chair

By now, everyone has heard of the credit card breach at Target which managed to steal 40 million credit cards. Because this breach is so large, other significant breaches have managed to garner much less attention such as the ones at Sally Beauty Supply, Michael’s, Neiman Marcus, and many other smaller incidents. What all of these breaches have in common is malware. Hackers now rely on malware to help them steal credit cards, and as Point of Sale (POS) professionals, it is important that you understand the risks associated with modern malware attacks.

So what is malware? Malware is a generic computer term for any malicious software. This could be in the form of a computer virus (software that does damage to your computer), Trojan (software that performs undesired actions in the background usually secretly), back doors (software that establishes remote connections without your consent), and many others. The benefit of using malware from the computer hacker’s point of view is simple. A hacker can write (or pay someone else to write) a piece of software one time, and through the pervasive use of the internet, can distribute that malware using e-mail, social media, video downloads, and so much mo. Basically, as people browse the internet for information or for entertainment, there is always a chance that a hacker has imbedded malware in something that will be installed on a station after a site is visited.

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