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“Dexter” malware targets point-of-sale (POS) Windows systems!

Happy New Year!

Somehow I missed this important security-related article about “Dexter” malware that has infected HUNDREDS of point-of-sale (POS) systems over the last two or three months in 40 countries, according to Israel-based security firm Seculert. (Hmmmm…. this reminds me a bit about another use of “POS” in one of the “Men in Black” movies! :-) ). Normally, I would not worry too much, but in THIS case, I have not control over the fact that many of the vendors I use might (IMHO – FOOLISHLY) persist in using Windows systems that could get infected and jeopardize my credit card information! The operating systems targeted by Dexter are represented in a pie chart in the article and are: Windows XP (51%), Windows Home Server (17%), Windows Server 2003 (9%), Windows 7 (7%), and unspecified percentages for Windows 2000, Windows Server R2, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, and 12% for Unknown systems. English-speaking countries appear to be principal targets, with 30% of infections in the U.S., 19% in the U.K., and 9% in Canada!

The custom-made Dexter malware targets specific POS systems and “…injects itself into the file iexplore.exe in Windows servers before hijacking process lists, stays active through rewriting in the registry key, and then scrapes sensitive credit card data from the server — before transferring it through a remote command and control (C&C) system.” When the data is found and transferred, the attackers can use the information to clone credit cards that have been used in the system, which could be any retailer, e.g., stores, hotels, restaurants!

It is unclear how the malware enters the targeted POS system in the first place. As noted above, some 50% of the targeted systems run Windows XP and another 30% run varieties of Windows Server.

Darn, I wish that the retailers (and banks) that I use would stop running Windows and putting me and other customers at risk.

-Bill at

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