One of the most enticing credentials that hackers desire is your credit card number, along with its expiration date and the code on the back. Hackers are also willing to go great lengths to achieve their goal of stealing these credentials, even so far as to make physical changes to automatic teller machines (ATMs) to do so. In fact, hackers will often install skimming devices on ATMs that are so subtle that they can be difficult to detect.
Take, for example, this news article from July 2017 that showcases a rather specific case of ATM skimming. The device in question simply slips over the ATM card reader in a discreet way to give the user the impression that they are using a legitimate machine. Any unsuspecting user could accidentally throw their credentials right to a hacker.
Furthermore, there have been cases of hackers implementing custom hardware into ATMs designed to harvest credentials. These devices are often installed onto ATMs so that they can wirelessly transmit credentials, to perpetrators lurking nearby. Either way, the result is the same; stolen credentials and upset victims.
Imagine waking up, checking your bank account, and noticing that you’re missing the entirety of your checking account balance. Or, even worse, finding out that your account has sunk into the red because someone in a foreign country has purchased your information and used it for their own purposes. How can you keep this from happening to you? The easiest way is to be wary of ATM skimmers in the first place. You should keep the following in mind when using an ATM.
- Cameras surrounding the machine: If you are in an area where there are plenty of cameras, there will be less of a chance that the ATM will have been tampered with. In fact, most ATMs actually have built-in cameras, but it helps to have some extra caution to take a look around whenever you want to use one.
- Tampering with the device: Examine the device before you use it. Are there any issues with the way it looks? Are any faceplates removed or devices plugged into it? If there are, you know that it’s not a machine that you can trust.
- Additional “testing”: Before you insert your card into the device, try jostling the slot to see if it’s something that was artificially placed over the actual reader. Carefully inspect the machine before you insert your card. Spending a few moments to check the device before using it can save you a whole lot of pain in the long run.
What are your thoughts on ATM skimmers? Are you confident that you can identify one that has been tampered with? Leave your thoughts in the comments.