How Your ATM Card Data Could Get Hacked

Security experts have warned ATM (Automated Teller Machine) users to stay clear from suspicious ATMs for past several years because of numerous security vulnerabilities but people are still carrying out transactions from hacked and infected ATMs, only to later find out that their accounts are emptied unknowingly.

As new methods to hack ATMs are being discovered by the team of experienced hackers, the rate of theft and card data hacking has been on the rise. On the other hand, slow adoption of the smart payment cards and smart ATM cards equipped with EMV chip has been fuelling the data theft that rose 20-year high in the United States alone.

Banks and security researchers are investing their time and money in developing new and sophisticated cards with secure EMV chips to fight existing hacking techniques, but most of the ATMs are not yet upgraded to accept transactions using chip.

This is the reason why hackers are getting more advanced in finding loopholes and vulnerabilities within the current magnetic-striped ATM card system to steal data from the card and then make counterfeit card or reuse the stolen information to carry out bogus transactions.

Earlier this month, security researchers found out hackers have infected vulnerable ATM system with next-generation of malware that gives them the ability to hold an inserted card inside the machine.

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So to keep yourself and your ATM card safe from these hacking attempts, few steps and guidelines are outlined in this article to protect yourself from hacked ATMs.

Inspect ATM Machine Before Using

Once an ATM card has been inserted into the machine, it begins to read the data stored in the magnetic stripe. What hackers usually do is they set up a thin card reader on the ATM card slot that reads your card’s data when you slide your card into the machine.

Another technique that is being widely used by hackers is the installation of scamming kit in front of the ATM card slot. These kits also feature a tiny camera and are specially designed to capture card data as well as PIN code being typed in by the cardholder.

These kits are so small in size that it becomes next to impossible for the average person to detect if the scamming kit has been installed on the ATM or not.

Regardless of the method being used by hacker to steal your card data, it has been observed by the security researchers that hackers usually targets easy to access ATMs because they find it easy to install scamming kits onto the machine without getting caught.

So it is best to avoid using any ATM located in uninhabited areas or areas where there is less activity because those are the easiest targets for hackers.

Increasing The Security Of ATM Card

The never-ending fight between banks and hackers has resulted in the development of some progressive fraud prevention system that is intelligent enough to know who you are and what you buy using your credit or debit card.

This new system is specifically designed to observe your purchase patterns and then alerts the system if any abnormal transaction has been detected. This fraud prevention system would work because it has been observed that hackers, after stealing the card data, first check the security system by performing low-cost transactions before conducting transactions with hefty amounts.

But still, most of the card issued by banks is based on the old magnetic-stripe system instead of issuing the EMV chip-based cards, which is the reason why there has been an increase in the fraudulent transactions and ATM card data theft using methods like scamming.

Those cards that are equipped with a tiny chip are more secure than the cards that rely only on magnetic stripes for the storage of account information. Even though the data stored in the magnetic stripes are identical to that of chip but it contains an added layer of security that is known as Integrated-Circuit Card Verification Value (iCVV), which can also be referred to as EMV Tokenisation.

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So it is better to opt for a card equipped with the chip as well as magnetic-stripe for an increased security of the transactions being carried out from your card.

In conclusion, it can be said that apart from physically infecting the Automated Teller Machine, hackers can systematically modify the machine since every machine uses some sort of operating system to operate. Hackers would be able to find vulnerabilities within those systems and then exploit it by installing malware to steal user data from the cards.

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