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Crooks Hijack ATM Using USB Stick

Sophisticated heist used malware-laden USB sticks to steal cash from ATMs.

In what could be a sign of things to come in ATM fraud, a highly sophisticated and well-funded criminal gang targeted an overseas bank and commandeered at least four of its ATMs with malware-rigged USB sticks in order to empty them of cash.

Tillmann Werner, a researcher for CrowdStrike, said the organized crime group cracked open the ATMs and plugged in the USB stick containing a DLL exploit payload. The payload reconfigured the ATM system such that the attackers controlled it and allowed money mules to steal all of the cash stored in those machines. There has been a single arrest so far -- a money mule -- and the attacks may possibly have incurred millions of dollars in losses. These attacks are expected against other banks as well, he said.

"They crack the ATM open and plug in the USB drive. It's risky, but nevertheless, it works," Werner said.

Werner declined to name the victim bank nor the brand of ATM it runs. The attacks still appear to be underway, he said. "The fact that such a sophisticated group is operating right now is the most important fact. Another thing that's interesting is banks in Germany potentially have the same issue, although we haven't seen an attack like that in Germany so far," Werner says.

Read the rest of this story on Dark Reading.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
2/15/2014 | 5:35:06 PM
ATM Robbery
I am reminded of the episode in Breaking Bad when the Meth heads steal the ATM machine but can't get it open. This is obviously a much bigger and smarter group of thieves. I wonder, do they take the machine? Find machines in remote areas? This doesn't seem to be something that is a quick grab of cash. I can't believe it's really easy breaking them open to put a USB stick into them.
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