ATMs Spitting Out Cash for Hackers

Jon Howard
January 30, 2018

Once the machine is infected, the hackers can control the operations of the ATM, including the ability for them to make the machine spit out cash, hence the name "Jackpotting", as in winning a jackpot Las Vegas casino-style.

The process also requires installing a laptop computer and a cellphone into an ATM, allowing fraudsters to remotely gain access of the machine and force it to discharge money.

Withdrawals were subsequently frozen at over 1,000 ATMs at that time, a police investigation that followed revealed that masked thieves were waiting in front of machines that were hacked and carried away bags full of cash that equaled over $2 million in all. It is not clear how much money has been lost from jackpotting.

NCR said that its machines are not targeted in the recent attacks, but it is a concern for the entire ATM industry.

Diebold Nixdorf said that authorities had warned the company that hackers were targeting its Opteva ATM model, which went out of production several years ago.

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KrebsOnSecurity, a blog, obtained a copy of the alert. "This represents the first confirmed cases of losses due to logical attacks in the US".

Black box attacks, otherwise known as jackpotting, first appeared in Western Europe in 2015 and in Mexico years earlier. The art of so-called ATM jackpotting, where ATMs are hacked to start doling out dollars-no PIN required-has been around for a while now (MIT's Technology Review has been warning about this since 2010), but the Secret Service only recently sounded the alarm. It further requesred all ATM makers to consider these incidences as a warning and take actions to protect their machines.

"In previous Ploutus.D attacks, the ATM continuously dispensed at a rate of 40 bills every 23 seconds", the alert stated.

Thieves have identified vulnerabilities in financial institutions that operate ATMs, according to the Secret Service.

Commentators point out that a number of countries in Europe were hit by jackpotting attacks, which followed similar attacks in Taiwan and Thailand.

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