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Cybercriminals in the United States are hacking ATMs to force them to dispense money in a new scheme called ‘jackpotting.’
Jackpotting has been a growing threat in recent years in different parts of the world, with the first reported case happening in 2013 in Mexico. According to Russian cybersecurity firm Group IB, more jackpotting cases occurred in 2016 in Taiwan, Thailand and several European countries. The first case in the United States reportedly took place in January this year.
In this scheme, hackers who are disguised as ATM technicians access the machines by connecting them to a laptop that has the same operating system as the machines. These hackers usually use an endoscope, a medical device inserted into the body, to inspect the ATM’s internal system. They can then manipulate the machine remotely by installing a malware known as the Ploutus D., one of the most up-to-date viruses.
Previous attacks reportedly released around 40 bills every 23 seconds, which is equivalent to thousands of dollars in a matter of minutes.
According to security expert Brian Krebs, ATMs running on Windows XP are more susceptible to jackpotting. Because of this, experts are advising ATM operators to upgrade the machines’ operating systems to Windows 7. However, the Secret Service warns that upgrading is not foolproof because some machines involved in recent cases of jackpotting are operated by Windows 7.
Meanwhile, experts have recommended placing physical ATM locks and adding a two-layer verification when accessing ATMs. Another solution mentioned was the enforcement of strict guidelines before technicians or staff can access the ATM service area.