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Automated teller machines, better known as ATMs, are turning 50 on June Computer science professor Pradeep Atrey, from the University at Albany, State University of New York, explains the security features and concerns of modern cash machines.
How does an ATM work?
The machine matched the pattern to a number code entered by the user. It prompts the customer for a personal identification number, usually called a PIN, often four or six digits long.
If the card and PIN match, then the customer can deposit money, check an account balance or, most commonly, request a cash withdrawal. What security issues do ATMs have?
Because ATMs contain large amounts of cash, they are attractive targets for criminals. The most brazen thefts have involved physically stealing the ATM as a wholethough muggers have also accosted ATM userswho, unsurprisingly, are likely to be carrying cash.
ATM customers can be attractive targets for muggers. As a result, most ATMs today have built-in camerasto record evidence in case of a mugging or other crime, or to monitor people who might be tampering with the machine.
A more sophisticated theft involves covertly monitoring the device and its users. Thieves can install small cameras in different places on an ATMsometimes hidden by plastic panels that look like normal parts of the machine.
With those, they can capture the card number, its expiration date, the name on the card, and even the three-digit card verification value CVV number on the back.
Fraudsters may also sell the data in online black markets. That can help them make fake duplicate cards to use in other ATMs. Can a thermal camera reveal your passcode?
Hidden cameras also let thieves watch users enter their PINs. A recent study found that a thermal camera can also capture PINsby identifying which number keys are slightly warmed, because they were pressed by the user. Specifically, the researchers found that PIN detection accuracy could be up to 78 percent when the heat traces on the key pad are captured within 30 seconds of authentication.
A similar study reveals that it was possible to find all four digits of the PIN from a distance of 35 centimeters and if the thermal camera was placed at an angle between 30 and 45 degrees.
However, it was much harder to identify the correct sequence of the digits. Can ATMs be hacked? Tech-savvy criminals have several options for hacking ATMs.
If an attacker can locate the hidden port, he can insert a portable USB drive with a malicious program installedtaking control of the machine.
That essentially allows the attacker to dispense cash without using a card. A few years ago, a new attack became popular. By intercepting communications between the machine and the bank, an attacker can collect useful card and account data.
That may also offer a way to remotely install malicious software and take control of the machine itself: What security measures are or can be deployed? Banks are working to develop additional security measuressuch as the three-digit CVV on the back of cards.
Individuals can also take preventive measures to protect themselves when using ATMs: If your bank issues them, use a chip-enabled card. They provide improved security by verifying the physical card is genuine, and not a fake duplicate. It is often safer to use an indoor ATM, rather than one directly on the street, which can be accessed more easily by criminals either before or after your transaction.
Check the ATM to see if it looks like it has been physically altered or damaged, if anything is attached to the built-in card reader to read the magnetic strip or if there are any small cameras around the keypad.
Avoid using it if anything looks suspicious. Be careful of your surroundings and the people in the ATM area. A person behind you in line may be trying to catch a glimpse of the PIN you enter on the keypad.
Cover the key pad when entering your PIN so no observer or spy camera can see it. If you enter the correct PIN but the transaction fails, immediately contact the bank that issued the card to warn them that there might be a problem with the machine or your account. How can new technology make ATMs more secure?
As the ever-escalating arms race between ATM security professionals and criminals continues, customers will find themselves urged to use increasingly advanced security methods to identify themselves at ATMs. One method is two-factor authenticationwhich adds an additional layer of security a user must pass before being allowed access to an account.
This method, no longer considered secure because it is so easy to falsely simulate cellphone numbers, is being phased out in favor of smartphone apps that generate new codes every few seconds — or even physical keys.Jun 08, · What are some questions that could be answered in a research paper about Maya Angelou?
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