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Trojan Attack On Multiple ATMs Steals Data, PINs

Researchers find malware code that lets an attacker take full control of the cash machines

A rash of hacked ATMs during the past few months were hit with the same piece of malware that lets the attacker take over the ATM to steal data, PINs, and cash from the infected machines, researchers have found.

SpiderLabs, the forensics and research arm of TrustWave Systems, has dissected a Trojan family that infected 20 ATM machines, most in Eastern Europe. But the researchers say the malware seems to be headed to the U.S. and other parts of the world, as well.

Concerns about malware infiltrating ATMs has been intensifying lately. In March, Sophos revealed it had found a Trojan specifically written to steal information from Diebold ATM users, and had infected several ATMs in Russia. It is unclear whether the malware studied by SpiderLabs is related to the Diebold Trojan researched by Sophos.

SpiderLabs says the Trojan grabs magnetic stripe data and PINs from the Windows XP-based ATM's transaction application's private memory space. It comes with its own management function that lets the attacker take over the ATM with a custom interface, which can be accessed when the attacker inserts a controller card into the ATM card reader. So far, the malware doesn't appear to contain the ability to send data electronically to other systems.

"The malware does, however, allow for the output of harvested card data via the ATM's receipt printer or by writing the data to an electronic storage device (possibly using the ATM's card reader)," the researchers wrote. "Analysts also discovered code indicating that the malware could eject the cash-dispensing cassette."

The researchers warn that although it appears to be a somewhat contained threat, they expect the Trojan to continue to evolve and spread -- affecting more ATMs.

"Given the impact this malware can have on an infected ATM environment, Trustwave highly recommends ALL financial institutions with ATMs under management perform analysis of their environment to identify if this malware or similar malware is present," the researchers wrote in a research brief.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. 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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