On Your Side Alert: Malware targets shoppers at checkout

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There's a chance your credit card information could end up in the hands of cyber criminals who have found a way to hack into credit card readers.

Cyber experts say it's not just consumers that have to worry, retailers should also be on high alert too.

You've probably used one of those credit card readers this week. The machine reads and transmits your credit card information. Cyber Expert, DJ Rivera, says crooks have found a way to break through security mechanisms with a virus called vSkimmer.

"Previous variations have been responsible for major credit card theft from major stores," he said.

Essentially, cyber criminals trick the computer.

"It is controlling the software that is trusted in your computer. So it is basically telling itself, I am a good software and you can verify it with me," said Rivera.

He says once it's installed it's too late.

"The person who runs the machine does not notice that it is installed. It installs in the background. It can come from just about anywhere. From a link, a USB stick or from a website," Rivera explained.

Cyber experts say the virus was created to target Windows based systems. When the machine is attacked, it will act normal but behind the scenes, cyber criminals are quietly stealing tons of information.

"As soon as a credit card is run, the magnetic strip on the credit card has all the information such as credit card number, expiration date and security code. That gets read when the card is swiped," Rivera said.

Of course we wanted to know how consumers and retailers can protect themselves.

"I think everybody should be concerned. The issue is that the average customer can't really do anything about it. Part of the issue here is insiders. When you have stores with many employees, some of them may or may not be happy and some of them may see opportunities to sale this data," Rivera explained.

We reached out to the National Retail Federation about this threat, it had no comment. Rivera's advice, stores should conduct vulnerability tests to pinpoint any weaknesses and consumers should check their credit card statement often.

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