Intelligent Machines

How to Make an ATM Spew Out Money

A researcher shows he can control a cash machine remotely or on the spot.

An ATM stores cash in a locked vault, and it’s usually protected by cameras or other security devices. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the dough is safe: like any computerized system, an ATM can be hacked. Barnaby Jack, director of security testing at the computer security company IOActive, recently demonstrated attacks on two brands of freestanding ATMs–the kind found in convenience stores rather than banks. Jack showed he could control when and how they dispensed money. He also found he could steal information from cards that legitimate customers inserted into a hacked machine. He demonstrated two types of attacks–one that required physical access to the machine and one that could be carried out remotely.

This story is part of our November/December 2010 Issue
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Mouse over the letters in the above image to learn how Jack hacks an ATM. Credit: Andy Memmelaar

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