17 July 2018


Retired Member

3,614Posts 14,166,552Views 4,515Comments
Finextra community

Transaction Banking

A community for discussing technology trends, views and perspective in global transaction banking
A post relating to this item from Finextra:

New York ATM skimming gang steals $500,000

13 May 2009  |  10968 views  |  0
New York police are on the hunt for a gang of thieves accused of using ATM skimming technology to steal account details and PIN numbers before withdrawing over $500,000.

All I know about ATMs I learned at the Movies

14 May 2009  |  4275 views  |  0

There is a scene in the movie Terminator 2 in which a young John Connor uses a computer to steal money from an ATM machine.  This movie opened in 1991.  Which makes me seriously wonder why ATMs are still so vulnerable to these same type of attacks today?  I doubt that when James Cameron envisioned and scripted this type of theft eighteen years ago, that he was planning it as a training film for future crooks.  But even if by some weird twist he was, you would think that in the subsequent years the banking industry would have been able to find a way to secure ATMs so that they are not still--eighteen years later--not only vulnerable to these attacks but still vulnerable in the same way.

Now the vulnerabilities in the ATM system have been fairly well documented.  The earliest version was created in 1939 and I'm not suggesting that the industry hasn't taken any steps to fix the security gaps but just maybe we're thinking too hard.  After all, the recent stories don't involve a lot of sophisticated technology.  Another recent incident in New York involved double-sided tape, a small camera and mirrors.  In fact, according to an article by Popular Mechanics; the simplest skimmer set-ups involve little more than a $300 magnetic stripe reader and a hidden camera aimed at the ATM keypad. The reader snaps up your card's information, and the camera records your PIN as you enter it."  Yes, Popular Mechanics!

So if ATMs can ensure that I get the right amount of cash; why can't they make sure that no one can attach a mirror to the machine?  After all, we have soil resistant carpets, fire resistant clothing, spill proof lids, so why not tape resistant ATM machines? And for those brain trusts who want to take the whole machine?  What about an automatic trigger that shreds or explodes the cash if you remove the ATM from it's foundation?  Or how about a voice alarm if you attach anything to the machine--just like those wonderful self check-out machines in the grocery which talk to you every time you try to use your own bag.  It's not brain surgery guys. (Before anyone starts sending me mean or nasty comments...I also know it's not that easy either. As my Grandmother reminds me.  "Stealing is a crooks full-time job so they spend 24/7 thinking of new ways to steal". The rest of us are working.)

In recent weeks, I have seen numerous commercials for the new Terminator flick, Terminator Salvation and on opening day I'll be sitting front and center.  But as I watch the movie, I'll be looking for clues to see what crooks are learning now that we might still be talking about twenty years from now.


Comments: (0)

Comment on this story (membership required)

Retired's profile

job title
member since 2014
Summary profile See full profile »

Retired's expertise

Member since 2009
3595 posts4,515 comments
What Retired reads

Who's commenting on Retired's posts

Pooja Golakonda
Behzod Sabirov
Ketharaman Swaminathan
Melvin Haskins
James Treacher
Kenneth Marritt
Mark Santall
Alexander De Lange
Graham Seel
Kishore Meda
Willem Lambrechts