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Growing Popularity of E-Commerce Hacking Technique Raises Security Concerns

06 February 2020 - 09:12 by Simon Crisp

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Consumers are being warned to be on the lookout for a malicious practice called e-skimming which is becoming more widespread than in the past, according to CNBC.

E-skimming attacks specifically target the checkouts of online stores, from which it is possible for private information to be stolen when customers are attempting to carry out transactions via safe shopping online.

A handful of high-profile cases of e-skimming, which have hit sites such as Ticketmaster in recent years, seem to have been early examples of what is now a growing trend amongst the cyber-criminal community.

The name ‘e-skimming’ is adapted from the practice of stealing payment card information using readers placed across the interfaces of cash machines in the real world, although of course in an e-commerce context there is no physical hardware involved and instead the theft is carried out using software.

A coordinated international effort to tackle the gangs that are deploying e-skimming to their own benefit has resulted in the arrest of three individuals earlier this week, according to an announcement made by Interpol.

The suspects who are now in custody are thought to have snatched various pieces of personal information from unsuspecting e-commerce customers, including names and addresses in addition to payment card data.

Ultimately, it is down to retailers to take steps to make sure that their checkout services are not susceptible to exploitation by hackers.

Of course, the practice of e-skimming is becoming more popular in part because there are only a handful of checkout solutions which are used by a large number of different sites. This means that once the attackers work out how to compromise one system, they can potentially apply the same methods to hundreds or even thousands of online stores, creating a conundrum for retailers as well as for law enforcement agencies.