Criminals targeting ATMs across Europe have grown increasingly clever in recent years and now can empty some machines armed only with a microcomputer, some wiring and a 3- inch hole drilled into the front panel. To add to the challenge, testers and manufacturers have realised there is no simple fix for the vulnerabilities that enable this kind of attack. One possible solution is to replace the hardware and add increased authentication and encryption, particularly at the OS layer, but this is prohibitively expensive.
One of the best and most cost-effective solutions is to deploy physical security measures such as surveillance cameras, access controls and tracking devices as a means of prevention, tracking and recovery to address all the different types of attack that can occur.
Other types of physical attack are still also prevalent, such as opening the machine and simply plugging in a USB stick to install malware or deploy a hacking tool and skimming whereby the criminals use card readers and install a fake keyboard or a camera focused on the PIN pad. Of course, skimming can also be targeted at garage petrol pumps and other payment devices like self-checkouts. In stark contrast to the more subtle hole drilling attacks, some criminals crow-bar the front from the ATM and use a flammable gas explosion to open the safe, while others carry out rip out attacks.
It’s a cause for concern that ATM black box attacks across Europe rose 287% from 2015-2016 while in 2016, in the USA, the FICO Credit Alert Service reported 546% rise in ATM attacks. Although not all of these were successful in terms of the criminal managing to steal cash, there is always expensive collateral damage and of course the possibility of innocent people getting injured.
Each attack creates 3 potential types of loss:
- Cash within the unit
- Damage or complete loss of the expensive ATM
- Ongoing loss of customers not being able to use the unit until it is repaired or replaced.
It’s clearly time to take action by implementing a comprehensive ATM security and recovery strategy.
Smarter Technologies Group’s ATM surveillance, tracking and security solutions are based on the principle of deterrence and prevention, using low-cost, long-life Orion Data Network tags in addition to CCTV cameras other appropriate security measures depending on client requirement.
Smarter Technologies was recently consulted by one of the UK’s foremost food retailers to create and install an ATM monitoring, tracking and recovery solution. We designed and created bespoke ATM tracking devices, that offer outstanding protection against theft and tampering. The exact specifications of these trackers cannot be published for security reasons, but here are some of the less sensitive details.
The Orion Data Network solution senses any unusual activity around and within the ATM’s environment including factors such as excessive vibration, temperature and tilt, all of which indicate an attempt to open or move the equipment.
ATM protection requires specialist trackers. GPS is not suitable in this application, because such units, buried within the body of the ATM, would not be visible to the satellites. GSM doesn’t deliver the accuracy required to pinpoint the location of such high value assets. This is why Smarter Technologies Group uses RFID technology to create the industry’s leading solution. Underlying the Smarter Technologies solution is our own eNcell protocol – working on a supercomputing platform designed to process data from 6 cell communication towers at any moment in time.
The Smarter Technologies ATM tracking device is a unique solution tailor-made to each client’s specifications.