Hacking away at ATM security

Is the Russian mob going high tech?

Hacking away at ATM security

Bloggers were abuzz this morning over a new report on MSNBC about possible attempts to undermine the security on ATMs. The Web site claims that Israeli researchers have discovered a "fundamental weakness" in the security system banks use for PINs for debit cards.

And someone is already trying to exploit that weakness. MSNBC got hold of a Secret Service memo that indicates organized criminals in Russia are "systematically attempting to subvert the ATM system and unscramble encrypted PIN traffic."

The researchers reported the security flaw a few weeks ago, and the banking industry has been in turmoil trying to decide how to address the issue. While the bankers obviously want the flaw fixed, some are worried that drawing attention to the problem could cause panic among consumers.

Blog community response:

"The end result, is that it sounds like this is a serious weakness, but one not easy to exploit. Russian organized crime groups are working on it, though, so it would seem that no matter how small the risk is, it certainly sounds like something financial institutions should pay attention to. The risk is always small until someone breaks in -- but by then it's often too late."
--TechDirt

"I generally don't like posting 'the sky is falling' articles, but this is an interesting possibility."
--The Lazy Genius

"Any attack made using this method would seriously compromise the banking network and cause huge amounts of chaos not just in the U.S. but around the entire world. And, since it would like the bank's customers were withdrawing frome their own accounts, any complaint that money was stolen would be seen as crazy. The bank would not be able to tell the difference."
--The Cell Phone Disconnect

"So it is not news that organized crime is trying to bust the ATM market and still your info and your cash. (They got mine-it was refunded-last spring.) But now comes word that workers from an Israeli company have discovered a security hole in the system large enough to undermine the entire network. Don't you feel good about that debit card purchase now?"
--Life on the Wicked Stage: Act 2

 

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