Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New ATM Skimmers

The guys after your money aren't all in the government:

It’s getting harder to detect some of the newer ATM skimmers, fraud devices attached to or inserted into cash machines and designed to steal card and PIN data. Among the latest and most difficult-to-spot skimmer innovations is a wafer-thin card reading device that can be inserted directly into the ATM’s card acceptance slot.

That’s according to two recent reports from the European ATM Security Team (EAST), an organization that collects ATM fraud reports from countries in the region. In both reports, EAST said one country (it isn’t naming which) alerted them about a new form of skimming device that is thin enough to be inserted directly into the card reader slot. These devices record the data stored on the magnetic stripe on the back of the card as it is slid into a compromised ATM.

I suppose it's a silver lining that these are starting out in Europe. Maybe there will be fixes in the works by the time they make it to America. Plus, successful enterprises on these shores require government assistance. ("That criminal empire? You didn't build that, somebody else, uh, made that happen.")

Anyway, one more thing to watch for at the ATM, and gas pump. And, by the way, I'm not terribly impressed by the antifraud efforts at my local gasitorium. They put antitamper strips across the door to the credit card reader: just little strips of tape with their name and a serial number. The first time I saw them I was reassured. But within a week all the strips had been broken. This could be because the door needs to be opened to replace the printer roll, or it could just be that you've got teenagers standing around for 3 minutes with a key in their hand while the tank fills. Or it could be because some enterprising young thug just installed a skimmer. So much for security tape.

ATM security is a pain in the butt anyway, and raising usage rates to offset fraud is unfair to the consumer. The ATM industry has data lines and sophisticated computers already in the machines. They need to be half as creative as the digital thugs and start catching them and putting them in jail. And I'm not talking about country club jail; I'm talking about the less desirable kind as referenced in Office Space.