Cyber thieves are a smart, highly motivated group, and trying to thwart their nefarious schemes can be very difficult for the IT security industry.  It seems that the bad guys are usually a step ahead in this cat-and-mouse game, always contriving new ways to steal data and wreak mayhem.

With one of the latest pieces of malware to be uncovered, cyber criminals may have hit the mother load.  Dubbed “Universal Man-in-the-Browser” (uMitB), this new tool is potentially one of the most destructive, working silently on a user’s computer to capture financially sensitive data such as credit card numbers and Social Security numbers.

Some background will be helpful to fully understand why uMitB is a big deal:  Security experts have known for some time about malware called “Man-in-the-Browser” (MitB), which is a less robust form of uMitB.

MitB works by examining all of a user’s data entered on web pages specifically prescribed by the cyber criminal, such as banking and online shopping sites.  It periodically creates data log files, and sends them back to the cyber criminal, who then has to review them and parse out any usable information.  The review process can be tedious and time consuming, akin to looking for a needle in a haystack.

If the thief does find any potentially valuable information, it has to be very recent or else it is probably useless.  This is because sometimes the end user will discover, or at least suspect, in a timely manner that his credit card number has been hijacked and then quickly cancel the account.  But the criminal may not get the log file until days after the actual theft, and thus the data might be rendered useless by that point.

So while MitB is an important part of the cyber theft toolkit, its implementation does have limits.  And that’s where uMitB comes in.

According to Trusteer, the firm that discovered uMitB’s existence, this new malware overcomes the handicaps of MitB.  First, uMitB collects data input on every web site that the user visits, greatly expanding the opportunities to find sensitive information.

Second, uMitB automatically parses information coming from the user, locating account numbers and other usable data, thus eliminating the task of reviewing logs.

Third, stolen data is instantaneously sent by the uMitB malware to the cyber criminal, who can nearly immediately sell it on the black market or otherwise exploit it.

uMitB is a scary development; an industry observer at CIO called it “unnervingly advanced.”  So what can you do to protect yourself and your company from being cyber robbed?  The best tactic is to run a powerful antivirus and antimalware program on each computer, and to keep the software regularly updated.

But even the best software protection can only go so far, and is no guarantee against a cyber breach.  So for your business, you need to purchase cyber liability insurance as well.  This coverage can protect against numerous kinds of losses due to a cyber event, and can offer you piece of mind against increasingly dangerous cyber attacks.