Citadel malware targeting Payza platform for emerging markets

Trusteer’s security team has discovered a variant for the Citadel trojan
Trusteer’s security team has discovered a variant for the Citadel trojan

Payza aims to be a PayPal for the masses: a global payment platform meant to bring affordable and convenient payment methods to under-serviced markets, and to connect the global marketplace with emerging countries.

Man in the Browser (MitB) malware has been targeting online payment platforms since day
One,” wrote Etay Maor of security firm Trusteer, in a blog post. “While popular payment services such as PayPal are constantly being targeted by most malware, smaller payment systems are now popping up on cybercriminals’ radar.”

If a user accesses his/her Payza account from an infected computer, Citadel will use a Payza-specific MitB code to alter the fields the user is asked to fill in when accessing the login page. It then adds the “PIN” field to the Payza login page. The Payza transaction PIN is used every time a user wants to send funds, add funds, withdraw funds or make a payment. By obtaining the victim’s email, password and PIN number, a cybercriminal can take over the account and commit fraudulent transactions.

There are several security concerns with financial services in developing countries, Maor added. “The wide use of Internet cafes and public computers and…the lack of online security awareness. Together, these conditions can have serious implications.”

Public computers are typically at higher risk for malware infections and when used by an unsuspecting user, the chances of a successful fraudulent transfer are much higher.

The Citadel variant discovered by Trusteer’s security team included the following domains in its targeted URLs list:

  • https://secure.payza.com/login
  • https://www.alertpay.com

AlertPay is a Canadian e-wallet service that was acquired by MH Pillars of the UK. In May 2012, MH Pillars launched Payza.

“MitB malware continues to pose a serious threat to online financial services,” the researcher added. “Users must stay vigilant and be on the lookout for new and suspicious requests even when accessing trusted sites like their bank or online payment website.”

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