$3.75 Billion Brazilian Boleto Malware Attack

US security firm RSA has uncovered a malware-based fraud affecting Brazil’s second most popular payment method, the Boleto Bancário – or Boleto.

192,227 victims have been affected and some 495,753 Boleto transactions have been compromised during the two-year attack. It is estimated that hackers could have stolen up to $3.75 billion (USD$) – £2.18 billion – though it’s not known how successful the fraudsters were in syphoning off funds. The New York Times reports that even if half of that amount was stolen, the crime would be far greater than any other recorded electronic theft.

The Boleto Bancário is second in popularity only to the credit card in Brazil, and is used for 18 percent of all payments in the country. More than six billion Boletos were issued last year for electronic transactions ranging from grocery shopping to the payment of utility bills.

The malware – which RSA calls ‘Bolware’ – uses man-in-the-browser technology to infect browsers on PCs, having tricked users into clicking on malicious links in phishing scams. The criminals can then intercept Boleto details. Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla FireFox are all vulnerable to attack, and users are advised to treat links with caution.

RSA’s full report on the Bolware fraud is available here.