Cybersecurity: Introducing Formjacking

Cybersecurity: Introducing Formjacking

Naveen Joshi 23/07/2019 6

Armed with sophisticated, new-age technologies, hackers are back with another latest weapon in their arsenal - formjacking - posing a significant threat to e-commerce websites.

The onset of the digital era has led every organization to carry out its business activities on the web. Along with ease, convenience, and cost benefits, using digital platforms for workflow execution promotes collaboration within the workplace, increases business transparency, streamlines and optimizes business operations, and also accelerates operational excellence. Even though the online world offers a bag full of benefits, it opens up a whole new host of data security issues. With everything, right from data acquisition to data storage to data-related operations being handled online, digital platforms have become the best source for hackers to carry out their illicit activities. Realizing this, organizations are under constant pressure to hasten their efforts to redefine their security defense mechanisms. Besides, the growing data leaks, automated cyberattacks, ransomware, malware implantation, and crypto-jacking are increasingly piling up more stress and concern for organizations, regardless of their size. Since none of both, industry behemoths and SMEs, are safe from hacker attacks, having an infallible solution for data security is of utmost importance, given the pace at which cyber attacks are advancing and evolving.

While 2017 was the year of ransomware, the first half of 2018 saw the rise of cryptojacking; and now, cyber criminals are again back with another sophisticated form of cyber crime with its results being clearly felt this year - formjacking. While most of us are aware of ransomware and cryptojacking attacks, no one might really know what formjacking is. So, let’s first understand what formjacking exactly means and how it poses a threat to organizations before we provide you with actionable measures to curb this issue.

What is Formjacking?

Formjacking is a new form of cyber crime where criminals intercept users’ confidential card details from vulnerable e-commerce websites. And how is it carried out, you ask? Well, the malicious actors inject a JavaScript code into the websites to steal sensitive information of consumers. While shopping online, users have to enter their card details, their name, security code, address, zip code, and other such vital information during the checkout process. The code loaded onto the sites steal all the payment information, without the user being aware of it. Once the data is skimmed, hackers either sell it for earning more profits, or they reuse the data maliciously. Formjacking might seem simple, but it can wreak havoc for e-commerce websites. Though the form of attack is new, it has already begun showing its negative side. It is disturbing to know that an average of 4800+ websites was compromised each month in the year 2018. Besides, by stealing just ten card details per website, hackers are earning 2.2 million dollars per month. These facts mentioned in Symantec's Internet Security Threat report is a clear indication that formjacking attacks are skyrocketing at unimaginable levels.

Why is Formjacking a Great Threat to Organizations?

Until now, as the cyber crime form is new, formjacking is known to attack only e-commerce websites. But as a formjacking attack is based on lines of code being injected for scraping all essential information, organizations should be careful as in the future, hackers might also plan to steal organizations’ confidential business data via formjacking. In addition, we see more and more companies having a shift from the traditional way of business execution and launching their business online to gain a powerful brand identity. This means that all the data that is crucial and highly confidential is available in all corners of the digital world, and hackers might grab this opportunity to the fullest. With digital platforms being highly vulnerable to formjacking attacks, there is a high risk that these evil actors might redirect their focus to compromise these online platforms and intercept vital information using the same form of cyber attack. Therefore, it is crucial, not only for e-commerce websites but also for other businesses who carry out their work on apps based on cloud-based infrastructure to have their security practices checked and transformed (if necessary).

How to Protect Yourself and Your Customers from Formjacking?

Now that we are clear on the basics, it’s now time to understand what can be done to guard against this new form of threat. Formjacking attack reports are a red flag for organizations progressing on their digital transformation journey. Given the extent to which this attack is intensifying, e-commerce websites and other businesses have to pay adequate heed to their web-based apps and the security measures. Following are a few tips to protect your organization from threat actors:

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  • Educate your employees - For organizations with e-commerce or cloud-based functionality, the first and foremost step should be to make employees aware of this new form of cyberattack. Once the employees, both working under technical and non-technical domains have a clear comprehension of formjacking and its impact, they will be cautious and use countermeasure and best practices that CIOs suggest to them.

  • Conduct vulnerability assessment and penetration testing - Vulnerability assessment and penetration testing (VAPT) are two kinds of analyses having different capabilities carried out with the aim to achieve a fool-proof examination. The vulnerability assessment will allow companies to scan their e-commerce website or digital platforms to detect defects in the code, if any. The automated tests will help organizations consider the weak points that exist in their systems or apps. The second kind of analysis is penetration testing, which is basically an ethical hacking process to check for weaknesses or touchpoints where vulnerable activity is likely to happen. Combining both of these analyses will help organizations to get a comprehensive picture of all the defects that can pose a threat to them and can be risky.

  • Check your security governance framework - Another important tip for organizations is to pay special attention to revising and bolstering their security governance framework. They must make sure that every employee appropriately follows the guidelines across every web-based application and also while using installed extensions or plugins. Along with this, organizations should also conduct the vulnerability assessment and penetration testing to keep checking for any unusual behavior in the code.

CIOs and cyber experts are constantly pressurized to find an impeccable and reliable security solution to fight against any crime. Though these experts are struggling to curb the hacker issue, there have been no signs of them succeeding in their endeavor, until now. To add to the list, hackers are becoming more advanced and sophisticated every year. On one end, organizations are striving to cope up with older kinds of cyberattacks, and on the other end, hackers are ready with newer methods to swoop in and steal digital assets worth millions. Since the past few years, organizations have been constantly trying to deal with ransomware, automated cyberattacks, and cryptojacking attacks, and now, a new form of attack - formjacking - for them to add to their cybercrime dictionary. Though dealing with hackers isn’t easy, organizations aren’t left with many options for now. By making the security strong across every point that is vulnerable to attacks and carrying out regular assessment and analysis process, organizations can make hackers’ job difficult, at the very least, if not impossible.

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  • Matt Holman

    I rarely shop online unless it's eBay or Amazon

  • Sandy Williams

    Never trust a website that do not have an ssl certificate

  • Zach Hopkins

    SMEs need to hire cyber security experts to protect their business as well as customers' details.

  • Luke Ashton

    Today's hackers have become so dangerous

  • John Flaherty

    Never heard of formjacking, this is so frightening.

  • David Mcmorrow

    Well explained.

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Naveen Joshi

Tech Expert

Naveen is the Founder and CEO of Allerin, a software solutions provider that delivers innovative and agile solutions that enable to automate, inspire and impress. He is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience, with extensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment. He is currently working on Internet of Things solutions with Big Data Analytics. Naveen completed his programming qualifications in various Indian institutes.

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