In June this year, NatWest and RBS proudly announced the arrival of the new era of cardless ATM withdrawals.
In my comment on that page, I explained that any OS-only financial solution is "almost secure" (which is similar in concept to being "almost pregnant").
There is no "secure" without "secure element". App-based solutions are fully exposed to all types of fraud, including - most importantly - "zero day" attacks.
When I wrote that "the next question is how long will it take for it to be hacked" I was thinking to myself that NatWest's cardless ATM platform would be compromised by busy Christmas period. It seems they finally understood that too and are now pulling
the plug on that service, just over three months after its launch.
I am reliably informed that field tests at NatWest lasted for at least six months - yet, Ross Anderson's team at Cambridge University would have exposed security holes in the NatWest's flawed
architecture in half a day.
Most importantly, cardless ATM service has been offered by NatWest for years (!). It was only when they moved it to a "naked" mobile platform that things got interesting for the attackers. NatWest were lucky not to see even the tip of that iceberg that could
have turned the bank into the Titanic.
The question now is who will be the next victim. I'll share my thoughts on that soon.
Are cardless ATM withdrawals a great idea? Absolutely! That convenient approach allows, in particular, to move all existing ATMs from the "steal my money quick" magnetic stripe to a platform
whose security beats EMV ("Chip and PIN") hands down. In matter of days. Worldwide. If done right.
Watch this space...