ATM Drilling: A Low-Tech Threat to the Banking Industry
Researchers at Kaspersky have been investigating a low-tech, high-return method of ATM theft using a drill—that’s right, a drill. They found that for less than $15, they had all the tools they need to connect to an ATM and make it dispense money.
ATM drilling has become a problem in Europe and Russia, and it could threaten ATMs throughout the world. Kaspersky analysts were alerted about an ATM robbery that involved a small hole near the PIN pad of a machine.
After some investigative work, they found that most of an ATM’s parts are interconnected, and one part could be replaced without “alerting” the other parts. The researchers were able to create a circuit board that could be connected to the serial port in the ATM. Since many ATMs have plastic parts on their exteriors, they used a basic drill to get through the outside of the machine and run their circuit board. From there, all it took was some basic coding on a laptop to make the ATM do whatever they wanted.
What makes this issue even worse is that it can’t be quickly fixed with a remote update. A service technician has to physically go to each ATM to fix the hardware. This can improve the security of the machine’s components, but it cannot stop someone from drilling into the plastic components.