Posts Tagged: Charlie Harrow

May 16

Crooks Go Deep With ‘Deep Insert’ Skimmers

ATM maker NCR Corp. says it is seeing a rapid rise in reports of what it calls “deep insert skimmers,” wafer-thin fraud devices made to be hidden inside of the card acceptance slot on a cash machine.

KrebsOnSecurity’s All About Skimmers series has featured several stories about insert skimmers. But the ATM manufacturer said deep insert skimmers are different from typical insert skimmers because they are placed in various positions within the card reader transport, behind the shutter of a motorized card reader and completely hidden from the consumer at the front of the ATM.

Deep insert skimmers removed from hacked ATMs.

Deep insert skimmers removed from hacked ATMs.

NCR says these deep insert skimming devices — usually made of metal or PCB plastic — are unlikely to be affected by most active anti-skimming jamming solutions, and they are unlikely to be detected by most fraudulent device detection solutions.

“Neither NCR Skimming Protection Solution, nor other anti-skimming devices can prevent skimming with these deep insert skimmers,” NCR wrote in an alert sent to banks and other customers. “This is due to the fact the skimmer sits well inside the card reader, away from the detectors or jammers of [NCR’s skimming protection solution].

The company said it has received reports of these skimming devices on all ATM manufacturers in Greece, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Bulgaria, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.

“This suggests that ‘deep insert skimming’ is becoming more viable for criminals as a tactic to avoid bezel mounted anti-skimming devices,” NCR wrote. The company said it is currently testing a firmware update for NCR machines that should help detect the insertion of deep insert skimmers and send an alert.


Charlie Harrow, solutions manager for global security at NCR, said the early model insert skimmers used a rudimentary wireless transmitter to send card data. But those skimmers were all powered by tiny coin batteries like the kind found in watches, and that dramatically limits the amount of time that the skimmer can transmit card data.

Harrow said NCR suspects that the deep insert skimmer makers are using tiny pinhole cameras hidden above or beside the PIN pad to record customers entering their PINs, and that the hidden camera doubles as a receiver for the stolen card data sent by the skimmer nestled inside the ATM’s card slot. He suspects this because NCR has never actually found a hidden camera along with an insert skimmer. Also, a watch-battery run wireless transmitter wouldn’t last long if the signal had to travel very far. Continue reading →

Aug 15

Chip Card ATM ‘Shimmer’ Found in Mexico

Fraud experts in Mexico have discovered an unusual ATM skimming device that can be inserted into the mouth of the cash machine’s card acceptance slot and used to read data directly off of chip-enabled credit or debit cards.

The device pictured below is a type of skimmer known as a “shimmer,” so named because it acts a shim that sits between the chip on the card and the chip reader in the ATM — recording the data on the chip as it is read by the ATM.

This card 'shimming' device is made to read chip-enabled cards and can be inserted directly into the ATM's card acceptance slot.

This card ‘shimming’ device is made to read chip-enabled cards and can be inserted directly into the ATM’s card acceptance slot.

The chip reading component includes the eight gold rectangular leads seen on the right side of this device; the electronics that power the data storage on the shimmer can be seen in black at the top of the image.

According to information from Damage Control S.A., a security and investigations company based in Mexico, this device was found inside a Diebold Opteva 520 with Dip reader (the kind of card reader that requires you to briefly insert your card and then quickly remove it). The device is inserted from the outside of the ATM and no access is required to the ATM internals. Damage Control, which disseminated the information via a service called CrimeDex, didn’t say whether this shimmer was accompanied by a component to steal card PINs, such as a hidden camera or PIN pad overlay.

Here’s a look at what this thing looks like while it’s sitting inside a compromised ATM’s reader (notice how the chip-reading components shown in the first image are obscured in this one by the ATM’s chip reader): Continue reading →

Jan 15

Thieves Jackpot ATMs With ‘Black Box’ Attack

Previous stories on KrebsOnSecurity about ATM skimming attacks have focused on innovative fraud devices made to attach to the outside of compromised ATMs. Security experts are now warning about the emergence of a new class of skimming scams aimed at draining ATM cash deposits via a novel and complex attack.

The attackers responsible for this "black box" ATM attack relied on a mobile device and a USB-based circuit board.

The attackers responsible for this “black box” ATM hack relied on a mobile device and a USB-based circuit board.

At issue is a form of ATM fraud known as a “black box” attack. In a black box assault, the crooks gain physical access to the top of the cash machine. From there, the attackers are able to disconnect the ATM’s cash dispenser from the “core” (the computer and brains of the device), and then connect their own computer that can be used to issue commands forcing the dispenser to spit out cash.

In this particular attack, the thieves included an additional step: They plugged into the controller a USB-based circuit board that NCR believes was designed to fool the ATM’s core into thinking it was still connected to the cash dispenser.

“They didn’t have to do this [to get away with the money] but our guess is they thought this component would buy them some time,” before the ATM’s owners figured out something was wrong, said Charlie Harrow, solutions manager for global security at NCR.

NCR says the crooks then attached a smart phone (a virgin, out-of-the-box Samsung Galaxy 4), which they used as a conduit through which to send commands to the cash dispenser remotely. According to Harrow, the mobile phone was set up to relay commands through a dynamic IP service.

“Which meant that the real attacker sending the commands was somewhere remote from the ATM,” Harrow said.

Why would the ATM thieves set it up so that the dispense commands could only be issued remotely, when co-conspirators would still need to be present at the hacked cash machine to retrieve the money? Harrow believes it’s so that the boss running the crime operation can call the shots.

“There is no honor among thieves, and these guys will delegate responsibility,” Harrow observed. “That way, you have the Mr. Big back at the hideout who’s sending the commands, and the mules are the ones at the ATMs. So the mule who has the black box is unable to activate the attack unless he gets the command from the Mr. Big, and the mobile phone is the best way to do that.” Continue reading →