Hackers target ATMs across Europe: Fourteen countries including Britain are affected as cyber security threat grows


November 21, 2016

Cyber criminals have remotely attacked cash machines in more than a dozen countries across Europe this year.

The cyber criminals are using malicious software that forces machines to spit out cash, according to Russian cyber security firm Group IB.

The newly disclosed heists across Europe follow the hacking of ATMs in Taiwan and Thailand that were widely reported over the summer.

Diebold Nixdorf and NCR Corp, the world’s two largest ATM makers, said they were aware of the attacks and have been working with customers to mitigate the threat.

Although cyber criminals have been attacking cash machines for at least five years, the early campaigns mostly involved small numbers of ATMs because hackers needed to have physical access to cash out machines.

The recent heists in Europe and Asia were run from central, remote command centres, enabling criminals to target large numbers of machines in ‘smash and grab’ operations that seek to drain large amounts of cash before banks uncover the hacks.

‘They are taking this to the next level in being able to attack a large number of machines at once,’ said Nicholas Billett, Diebold Nixdorf’s senior director of core software and ATM Security.

‘They know they will be caught fairly quickly, so they stage it in such a way that they can get cash from as many ATMs as they can before they get shut down.’

Group IB declined to name banks that were ‘jackpotted,’ a term used to describe forcing ATMs to spit out cash, but said the victims were located in Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, Britain and Malaysia.

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