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Attacks/Breaches

5/10/2010
10:52 AM
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ATM Hack Demo Planned For Black Hat

A banned demonstration of remote and local ATM vulnerability exploits is set to resurface at the Black Hat Security Conference July 24th - July 29th in Las Vegas.

His Black Hat 2009 presentation on hacking ATMs was pulled at the last minute, but security researcher Barnaby Jack is back this year, promising to hack an unaltered, garden-variety ATM to make it dispense all of its cash.

"I've always liked the scene in Terminator 2 where John Connor walks up to an ATM, interfaces his Atari to the card reader and retrieves cash from the machine. I think I've got that kid beat," said Jack in his presentation overview for Black Hat 2010. The conference, presented by TechWeb, runs July 24th - July 29th in Las Vegas.

Jack's presentation last year, "Jackpotting Automated Teller Machines," was canceled at the last minute, reportedly due to the affected ATM manufacturer pressuring his then employer, Juniper Networks. In a statement released at the time, Juniper said that "to publicly disclose the research findings before the affected vendor could properly mitigate the exposure would have potentially placed their customers at risk. That is something we don't want to see happen."

This year, Jack no longer works for Juniper, but has become director of security research for IOActive. "The upside to this is that there has been an additional year to research ATM attacks, and I'm armed with a whole new bag of tricks," he said.

In particular, he promised both local and remote attacks on two ATMs from "major" but as yet unnamed manufacturers, and to demonstrate "a multi-platform ATM rootkit." In addition, he said he will detail "protection mechanisms that ATM manufacturers can implement to safeguard against these attacks."

Attacking ATMs is big business for criminals. Card skimming attacks, for example, today cost consumers and businesses at least $8 billion annually, according to the U.S. Secret Service. But with an ATM root kit, attackers wouldn't need a skimmer -- or perhaps even direct access to a machine.

While the software vulnerabilities affecting ATMs have been little disclosed, some software-level attacks against ATMs have been seen in the wild, including malware targeting Diebold machines.

Last year, Trustwave also dissected malware found on some Windows XP-based ATMs in Eastern Europe. The malware stored bank card details in an encrypted file. Attackers could print the details with the receipt printer by inserting a controller card into the ATM. But Trustwave said an attacker would have to be an insider to get the malware onto the ATM in the first place.

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