VB2014 paper: P0wned by a barcode: stealing money from offline users

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Feb 10, 2015

Fabio Assolini explains how cybercriminals are targeting boletos.

Since the close of the VB2014 conference in Seattle in October, we have been sharing VB2014 conference papers as well as video recordings of the presentations. Today, we have added 'P0wned by a barcode: stealing money from offline users' by Kaspersky Lab researcher Fabio Assolini.

If you aren't from Brazil, chances are you'll have never heard of the 'boleto bancário'. Yet boletos (as they are usually known) are a common way to pay bills in the country. At ATMs, banks and many shops, the unique barcode on your printed boleto allows you to pay a utility bill or a bill for online shopping, even if you don't have an online bank account.

For this to work well, it is important that no one is able to tamper with the barcode. Yet that is exactly what has been happening: Brazilian citizens have been targeted by malware that modifies boletos as they are being downloaded, making their barcodes point to different bank accounts from those the user believes they are paying into - accounts that are controlled by the criminals.

  Boleto modified by malware: both the barcode and the ID field have been modified.

Boleto fraud continues to be a problem. Yesterday, security firm RSA published a blog post highlighting a case in which malicious JavaScript is being injected into banking websites through DNS poisoning. (If accurate, this suggests the affected banks' security is well below par; HTTPS should make such attacks impossible.)

Though boletos are unique to Brazil, similar payment systems are used in other countries. At the most recent Botconf conference, Łukasz Siewierski discussed malware that targets Polish bank account holders by replacing account numbers stored in the clipboard.

You can read Fabio Assolini's paper on boletos here in HTML-format, or download it here as a PDF (no registration or subscription required). You can download the presentation slides here. We have also uploaded the presentation to our YouTube channel.

Fabio has spoken on cybercrime in Brazil at various VB conferences. We also recommend watching the video of his VB2013 presentation on malicious PAC files.

Posted on 10 February 2015 by Martijn Grooten



Latest posts:

New paper: LokiBot: dissecting the C&C panel deployments

First advertised as an information stealer and keylogger when it appeared in underground forums in 2015, LokiBot has added various capabilities over the years and has affected many users worldwide. In a new paper researcher Aditya Sood analyses the…

VB2019 presentation: Building secure sharing systems that treat humans as features not bugs

In a presentation at VB2019 in London, Virtru's Andrea Limbago described how, by exploring data sharing challenges through a socio-technical lens, it is possible to make significant gains toward the secure sharing systems and processes that are vital…

VB2019 presentation: Attor: spy platform with curious GSM fingerprinting

Attor is a newly discovered cyber-espionage platform, use of which dates back to at least 2014 and which focuses on diplomatic missions and governmental institutions. Details of Attor were presented at VB2019 in London by ESET researcher Zuzana…

Why we encourage newcomers and seasoned presenters alike to submit a paper for VB2020

With the call for papers for VB2020 currently open, we explain why, whether you've never presented before or you're a conference circuit veteran, if you have some interesting research to share with the community we want to hear from you!

VB2019 paper: The cake is a lie! Uncovering the secret world of malware-like cheats in video games

At VB2019 in London, Kaspersky researcher Santiago Pontiroli presented a paper on the growing illegal economy around video game cheats and its parallels with the malware industry. Today we publish both Santiago's paper and the recording of his…

We have placed cookies on your device in order to improve the functionality of this site, as outlined in our cookies policy. However, you may delete and block all cookies from this site and your use of the site will be unaffected. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to Virus Bulletin's use of data as outlined in our privacy policy.