Last summer, financial institutions throughout Texas started reporting a sudden increase in attacks involving well-orchestrated teams that would show up at night, use stolen trucks and heavy chains to rip Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) out of their foundations, and make off with the cash boxes inside. Now it appears the crime — known variously as “ATM smash-and-grab” and “chain gang” attacks — is rapidly increasing in other states.
Banks in Europe are warning about the emergence of a rare form of ATM skimmer involving a wire-like device that is inserted through a tiny hole cut in the cash machine’s front. The hole is covered up by a fake decal, and the thieves somehow attach the device to the place inside the ATM where the customer’s card is inserted.
This author has long been fascinated with ATM skimmers, custom-made fraud devices designed to steal card data and PINs from unsuspecting users of compromised cash machines. But a recent spike in malicious software capable of infecting and jackpotting ATMs is shifting the focus away from innovative, high-tech skimming devices toward the rapidly aging ATM infrastructure in the United States and abroad.