Feeds

Second-hand ATM trade opens up fraud risk

Craigslist cash machine contains 1,000 card numbers

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Second-hand ATM machines containing sensitive transaction data are easily available for purchase on eBay or even Craiglist, according to an investigation by a US-based security consultant.

Robert Siciliano, a security consultant to Intelius.com and personal ID theft expert, was able to buy an ATM machine through Craigslist for $750 from a bar in Boston. The previous owners hadn’t taken the trouble to clear out the data stored by the machines, making it possible for Siciliano to easily extract a log of hundreds of credit and debit card account numbers and transaction details.

There are no regulations in the US on who can own or operate an ATM, so Siciliano was able to make the purchase without any checks. He even managed to knock $250 off the asking price of $1,000. The bar selling the ATM was going through liquidation and also selling pool tables and neon Budweiser signs.

A manual supplied with the machine gave clear instructions on how to access the sensitive data it stored.

Although the names and expiration dates of cards were not included in the logged data, there was still enough information to constitute a serious breach involving more than a thousand records. "Fraudsters might be able to fudge the name and expiration date and create counterfeit cards that could be used at self-service terminals," Siciliano explained.

Most ATM machine operators are affiliated with reputable banks. However, there's very little to stop crooks from purchasing machines and setting them up with skimmers and cameras designed to capture PINs associated with particular cards.

To carry out skimming fraud, crooks use hardware attached to the face of an ATM to record user card information and PIN codes - and that skimming hardware is easily purchased online. Alternatively, a card reader in a purchased cash machine might be blocked off and replaced with hardware that records data without allowing a transaction.

Miscreants might also want to buy machines in order to develop ideas for more sophisticated hacking or malware-based scams.

Siciliano argues that a self-regulation scheme for the cash dispenser machine business was needed. "The payment-processing card industry has PCI which, while imperfect, regulates who can trade as an online merchant. The ATM industry in the US has nothing. Anyone has purchase a cash machine," Siciliano told El Reg.

Pubs or convenience store owners in the US sell hundreds of second-hand cash machines through eBay and Craiglist, according to Siciliano, who reports he had little trouble finding a seller close to home without having the inconvenience of shipping the machine across the US.

Siciliano obtained a license to handle transactions via his machine after sending off a few faxes and making some phone calls. Crooks could still carry out crimes without going through this process by using a purchased machine (powered off a car battery and transformer or an electrical outlet) simply to record bank cards and PINs without processing transactions. Such rogue machines could be placed in a high-traffic location.

The security consultant wants to encourage greater public awareness of the dangers posed by rogue ATM machines fitted with skimmers and how to recognise possible scams. As part of this campaign, Siciliano contacted a local Fox News crew whose report (below) illustrates the risk.

Siciliano got the idea to purchase the ATM, which he bought in late September, after hearing how a machine fitted with a skimmer was placed in the lobby of a hotel hosting the Defcon hacker convention in Vegas. He intends to keep the cash machine as a prop for presentations on the dangers of identity theft. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.