Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

2/13/2014
04:40 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Criminals Control, Cash Out Bank's ATM Machines

New, sophisticated ATM heist used a malware-laden USB stick to hijack the machine -- one arrest is made

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

Tillmann Werner, a researcher for CrowdStrike, says the organized crime group cracked open the ATM machines and plugged in the USB stick containing a DLL exploit payload. The payload reconfigured the ATM system such that the attackers control 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 says.

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

Werner declined to name the victim bank or the brand of ATM machines it runs. The attacks still appear to be under way, he says. "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.

The attackers physically took apart the ATM machines and inserted a USB stick with a malicious DLL installer into the printer port, giving them control of the ATM's Windows XP-based operating system. When a network connection is interrupted to the ATM, it automatically reboots, doing so from the malicious USB. The installer program collects information from the ATM system and also contains a log file for the attackers.

"It's a DLL injection file attack into the running process [of the ATM], and then you have code running in that process, and they can do what they want," Werner says.

One member of the gang in the heist was caught when he went to one of the ATMs to cash out. The cash-out works like this: An attacker types in a 12-digit code that then displays the malicious menu on the ATM screen. He answers a challenge question, and then calls one of his accomplices for a response code, which he inputs to dispense the cash from the ATM. The entire transaction of emptying the ATM takes a few short minutes.

Unlike the ATM Ploutus malware that was discovered last year that targeted bank customers during their ATM transactions, this attack goes after the bank's cash in the ATMs. "It's not related to Ploutus," he says, which is "child's play" compared with this new, more advanced method that steals from the bank itself.

"Attacks against ATMs mostly have been skimming attacks," he says. "With this attack, you can empty a whole ATM and make a lot of money ... It definitely takes a mafia-like organization to pull off such an attack."

The victim bank discovered the heist when its ATMs prematurely went empty of cash. "It doesn't leave any [other] traces," Werner says. The only clue is that the balance in the machine declines -- the theft transaction isn't detected.

There are ways to prevent such an attack, but with ATMs not built with software security in mind, it's tough to defend against it today. "You have to secure the PC, but that's easier said than done," Werner says. The best bet is to add a boot password to the system, which would prevent this attack, or to encrypt the ATM's hard drive.

The attack could work on banks in the U.S. as well, he says. The attackers have different versions of the malware for different banks, he says. "It has nothing to do with the banking system. They're going after the machine that spits out the money," he says. "Maybe they're not attacking U.S. ATMs because they use less cash in their ATMs."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. 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

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
AdamsD871
50%
50%
AdamsD871,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/26/2016 | 11:22:33 PM
Pending Review
This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
BrandyM707
50%
50%
BrandyM707,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/22/2016 | 6:03:58 AM
Pending Review
This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
EdwardP792
50%
50%
EdwardP792,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/7/2016 | 11:02:16 PM
Pending Review
This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
BanesM942
50%
50%
BanesM942,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/13/2016 | 7:48:22 AM
Pending Review
This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
EdwinB755
50%
50%
EdwinB755,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/16/2016 | 2:12:43 AM
Pending Review
This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
brandonlawrenter
50%
50%
brandonlawrenter,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/19/2016 | 8:06:57 AM
Pending Review
This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
MoyesA252
50%
50%
MoyesA252,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/8/2015 | 5:13:30 PM
Pending Review
This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
michael clinton
50%
50%
michael clinton,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/12/2015 | 7:59:21 PM
Pending Review
This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Beck
50%
50%
Beck,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/3/2014 | 6:38:58 PM
re: Criminals Control, Cash Out Bank's ATM Machines
There's a whole slew of security options beyond encrypting the ATM's hard drive (which should be common sense.) Adding a 2nd factor for authentication between the user and the bank could be used to authorize a specific amount that's to be released. And the bank could use an out of band solution like Toopher or Duo Security to make sure the hackers couldn't intercept the authentication. Why they had USB ports in the first place is beyond me. Not that I condone stealing, but it seems like this was a lesson that needed to be learned the hard way.
jobewan
50%
50%
jobewan,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/19/2014 | 8:36:36 PM
re: Criminals Control, Cash Out Bank's ATM Machines
Why are USB ports installed on the ATM in the first place? Why instead are there no USB ports (given the sheer potential for breach), or just a header to which authorized personnel attach a USB dongle, or a more proprietary connector, or an optically isolated port requiring a mating component, or a USB locking device that when removed, signals for authorization to continue and in the absence of which, or . . .
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
News
Former CISA Director Chris Krebs Discusses Risk Management & Threat Intel
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  2/23/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
Security + Fraud Protection: Your One-Two Punch Against Cyberattacks
Joshua Goldfarb, Director of Product Management at F5,  2/23/2021
News
Cybercrime Groups More Prolific, Focus on Healthcare in 2020
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  2/22/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Building the SOC of the Future
Building the SOC of the Future
Digital transformation, cloud-focused attacks, and a worldwide pandemic. The past year has changed the way business works and the way security teams operate. There is no going back.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-25329
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-01
The fix for CVE-2020-9484 was incomplete. When using Apache Tomcat 10.0.0-M1 to 10.0.0, 9.0.0.M1 to 9.0.41, 8.5.0 to 8.5.61 or 7.0.0. to 7.0.107 with a configuration edge case that was highly unlikely to be used, the Tomcat instance was still vulnerable to CVE-2020-9494. Note that both the previousl...
CVE-2021-25122
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-01
When responding to new h2c connection requests, Apache Tomcat versions 10.0.0-M1 to 10.0.0, 9.0.0.M1 to 9.0.41 and 8.5.0 to 8.5.61 could duplicate request headers and a limited amount of request body from one request to another meaning user A and user B could both see the results of user A's request...
CVE-2021-27225
PUBLISHED: 2021-03-01
In Dataiku DSS before 8.0.6, insufficient access control in the Jupyter notebooks integration allows users (who have coding permissions) to read and overwrite notebooks in projects that they are not authorized to access.
CVE-2021-27132
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
SerComm AG Combo VD625 AGSOT_2.1.0 devices allow CRLF injection (for HTTP header injection) in the download function via the Content-Disposition header.
CVE-2021-25284
PUBLISHED: 2021-02-27
An issue was discovered in through SaltStack Salt before 3002.5. salt.modules.cmdmod can log credentials to the info or error log level.