Russian man claims he wrote Target POS malware as a security program

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Cyber intelligence company IntelCrawler concluded on Sunday that 23-year-old Rinat Shibaev – not 17-year-old Sergey Taraspov, as the company previously reported – is the writer of the malware that infected Target's point-of-sale (POS) systems and led to the compromise of 40 million payment cards, among other personal information.

According to a revised IntelCrawler release, Shibaev and Taraspov had been working collaboratively to develop what has been dubbed the BlackPOS malware, or its variant, the KAPTOXA malware. Taraspov is said to have served in a technical support role, along with other unidentified individuals.

IntelCrawler CEO Andrew Komarov, along with other researchers, has been investigating BlackPOS for months by embedding himself in underground forums and marketplaces.

In a Tuesday email to, Komarov translated part of a Russian news interview with Shibaev, during which the 23-year-old is said to have claimed that KAPTOXA was written as a security program and was not meant to be used for stealing data.

“Seems to be that now they will start to deny everything,” Komarov said, adding this is the first time he has seen a cybercriminal attempt to explain their actions by calling a piece of malware a “security tool you can use.”

Beginning on Dec. 18, right around the time Target announced its breach, cyber threat intelligence organization iSIGHT Partners began investigating the POS malware that would later be identified as KAPTOXA.

iSIGHT released an extensive report in collaboration with the U.S. Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security and the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, which indicates that KAPTOXA correlates strongly with BlackPOS and had a zero percent anti-virus detection rate at the time of discovery.

A Target representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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