The massive data breach that struck Target over the holiday shopping season may have been part of a larger, unprecedented attack on U.S. retailers by Russian hackers, according to a new report by cyber security firm iSIGHT Partners and the U.S. Secret Service. The Associated Press explains that the malicious software hackers used to steal personal customer data from retailers' point of sales systems is almost certainly derived from BlackPOS software, which uses malware script from Russia.
The confidential report, sent to retailers on Thursday, notes that though "the use of malware to compromise payment information storage systems is not new," this is "the first time we have seen this attack at this scale and sophistication." According to the report, the invasive code poses a threat to retailers because it is incredibly difficult to trace. The AP reports:
Because this kind of software can "cover its own tracks," it's not possible to determine the scale, scope and reach of the breach without detailed forensic analysis. "Organizations may not know they are infected," the report said. "Once infected, they may not be able to determine how much data has been lost."
According to the analysts, the malware code was first distributed months ago and victims are still vulnerable to theft.