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Notorious threat actor Prilex targets Africa

from DION HENRICK in Cape Town
CAPE TOWN – AFRICA must brace itself for devious cyber criminals that specialise on blocking contactless payments.

The hackers are perpetrating what is considered the most advanced Point-of-Sales (PoS) malware in 2022.

The discovered Prilex modifications can now block contactless near-field communication (NFC) transactions on infected PoS-terminals, forcing customers to use their physical credit cards, enabling cyber criminals to steal money.

While currently it is most active in Latin America, the expansion of Prilex into the Middle East, Turkey and Africa regions is possible in the coming months, Kaspersky forecast.

“Contactless payments are now a part of our everyday life and the statistics shows the retail segment dominated the market with more than 59 percent share of the global contactless revenue in 2021,” said Fabio Assolini, head of the Latin American Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT) at Kaspersky.

He explained such transactions are extremely convenient and particularly safe, so it is logical for cyber criminals to create malware that blocks NFC-related systems.

“As the transaction data generated during contactless payment is useless from a cybercriminal’s perspective, it’s understandable that Prilex needs to prevent contactless payment to force victims to insert the card into the infected PoS terminal.”

Prilex is a notorious threat actor that gradually evolved from Automated Teller Machines (ATMs)-focused malware into a unique modular PoS malware.

It conducts so-called “GHOST” attacks, allowing them to perform credit card fraud-even on cards protected with the purported unhackable CHIP and PIN technology.

Prilex has been operating in Latin America since 2014 and is allegedly behind one of the largest attacks in the region.

During the Rio carnival in 2016, the actor cloned more than 28 000 credit cards and drained more than 1 000 ATMs in Brazilian banks.

It has expanded its attacks globally and was spotted in Germany in 2019 when a criminal gang cloned debit cards issued by a local bank, withdrawing more than €1,5 million from around 2 000 customers.

– CAJ News

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