Feeds

ATM hacking spree foiled by tip from ex-con

Rick James look-alike apprehended

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A North Carolina man's scheme to steal as much as $350,000 during an automatic teller machine hacking spree was thwarted by an ex-convict, who turned the man in to authorities, federal prosecutors allege.

Thor Alexander Morris approached the Texas-based ex-con looking for help identifying the locations of specific models of ATMs that are known to be vulnerable to tampering, the prosecutors said in court documents filed late last month. With that information in tow, Morris allegedly planned to reprogram the machines to overpay him by changing the cash denominations from $20 bills to $1 bills.

It would appear Morris contacted the wrong man. Brian Rhett Martin turned over a CD containing chat transcripts, photos of Morris, and other evidence to FBI agents. He also put Morris in touch with a purported ATM thief named Leo, who in reality was an undercover FBI agent.

Wearing a wig fashioned after 80s pop star Rick James, Morris was arrested inside a South Houston market after unsuccessfully trying to hack the first of 35 targeted machines, prosecutors said.

The targeted ATMs contain a backdoor that gives unfettered administrative access to anyone who enters a simple series of keystrokes. Wired.com, which reported the arrest earlier, said ATMs manufactured by both Tranax and Triton are known to have the backdoor, though both have updated the firmware on newer machines to force owners to change the passcodes when the ATMs are first booted.

Morris allegedly planned to travel to locations throughout the Houston area where and reprogram their cash denominations. He then planned to use prepaid payment cards worth $410, authorities said.

The ATMs would then deliver $8,000 instead of $400. The remaining $10 was left over for banking fees.

To disguise himself, Morris allegedly "donned a long black curly hair wig" that he dubbed his "Rick James wig."

Morris has not yet entered a plea, according to court records. His attorney didn't return a phone call seeking comment. ®

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
Jihadi terrorists DIDN'T encrypt their comms 'cos of Snowden leaks
Intel bods' analysis concludes 'no significant change' after whistle was blown
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
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.