Feeds

Online manuals enable ATM reprogramming scam

Money for nothing and your gas for free

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Reprogramming an ATM to dispense more cash than it ought to is far easier than anyone imagined.

Last week CNN screened a video of a man suspected of reprogramming an ATM to dispense $20 bills that it thought were $5 notes, so fraudsters and the unscrupulous were able to withdraw four times more money than was debited from their accounts.

The suspected perp didn't reprogram the Virginia gas station machine after he pulled off the scam, so it continued to dispense more money than it should have for nine days, until some honest individual pointed out the problem. The suspect used a pre-paid debit card to make withdrawals, making it harder for police to track him down. These difficulties prompted investigators to go public on the scam, which was carried out last month, in the hope of identifying the suspect from CCTV footage.

The hack was far from sophisticated. Security researchers have discovered that ATM manuals for the Tranax Mini-Bank 1500 Series, the machine involved in the Virginia scam, can be easily located online using nothing more fancy than a Google search query, eWeek reports. These manuals explain how to switch ATMs into diagnostic mode, where its possible to reprogram ATMs in the way carried out in the Florida gas-station hack, for example.

Would-be fraudsters would still need a PIN code in order to be able to access functions normally only available to installation engineers but the manual lists typical factory-set default passwords. So unless machines have been set up properly, they are wide open to abuse. It seems the hack is limited to Tranax's line of mini-bank terminals, though that's unclear. Tranax has delivered 70,000 ATMs, self-service terminals and kiosks across the US. Many of these installations involve the Mini-Bank 1500 machine that was the target of the Virginia hack, so the potential for abuse is clearly high.

We can only hope that the wave of publicity over the scam will prompt Tranax into action so that the scam is nipped in the bud. At the very least it ought to pull the copies of its manual offline. In theory these manuals are only available to authorised distributors or service providers though at least one Canadian-based reseller of Tranax terminals has left this information easily available to all and sundry. The Virginia hack shows at least some crooks already have their hands on this information. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.