Watch Out For ATM 'Jackpotting' Hack

Employee Maria Edney installs software onto an automated teller machine during the manufacturing process at Diebold Nixdorf in Greensboro, N.C.

Employee Maria Edney installs software onto an automated teller machine during the manufacturing process at Diebold Nixdorf in Greensboro, N.C. Gerry Broome/AP

The notorious form of cyber theft has reached the United States.

Jackpot! A form of hacking that forces ATMs to spit out thousands of dollars in cash has reached the United States, reports Krebs On Security.

This type of hack, called "jackpotting," has previously caused chaos in Mexico, Europe and Asia, and the U.S Secret Service has been quietly warning financial institutions it's reached American ATMs.

This hack doesn't target individuals using the machine. Instead, hackers—often dressed up as ATM repairmen to avoid drawing attention—hook up a laptop running a mirror image of the ATM's operating system and malware. To do that, the hackers will press the reset button inside the machine using an endoscope. After that, all the hacker has to do is attach a keyboard and use activation codes to empty out the machine's cash.

ATM makers Diebold Nixdorf and NCR are the primary focus of the Secret Service's warnings, but this could easily be a widespread issue.

The Secret Service recommended any ATM still running Windows XP should upgrade, as the operating system makes it an easy target. Machines running Windows 7 or Windows 10 will be much better off.  There are physical changes that can prevent a jackpot scheme as well. Switching to rear-loading ATMs and locking down physical access might be the best ways to keep that cash secure.

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