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07 September 2009, 12:42

An alarming increase in ATM crime

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ENISA logo Automated Teller Machine (ATM), cash machine, hole-in-the-wall or cash-point, call them what you will, these machines present the classic security conundrum; how can they be made easy to use while providing the necessary level of security.

The European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) is growing increasingly concerned about the rapid rise in ATM crime. Annual losses due to ATM crime in Europe are approaching 500 million euros (approximately £436 million) with a 149 per cent rise in ATM attacks in 2008 compared to the previous year.

This week ENISA published a paper entitled ‘ATM Crime: Overview of the European situation and golden rules on how to avoid it’PDF packed with statistics and information on the various methods used by criminals to steal from ATMs and how to avoid them.

Scams range from simple peeking over customers shoulders to obtain PINs to the more technically complex; for example, stick-on modifications to the card reader to capture the card details and a miniature camera to observe the PIN input with the signals from these devices transmitted to a nearby laptop using Bluetooth. Physical attacks on the machines themselves using explosives or cutting tools are also on the rise.

The human element is often the weak point in security systems and ENISA has drawn up a list of 'Golden Rules' consumers may follow to maximise their security when using ATMs.

Andrea Pirotti, Executive Director at ENISA says “Information security has, for too long, been focusing on technical solutions to maximise protection. Most ATM crime is focused on exploiting the human element and card holders must be more aware of the risks they are exposed to and how to prevent fraud occurring. We hope this latest report will be the start of an on-going process to increase awareness and reduce the growing cost of ATM crime.”


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