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How electronic access security could stop criminals hitting the jackpot

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

by Southco

In today’s digital age ATM crimes are becoming more sophisticated, with the growing threat of ‘jackpotting’, a critical concern for the ATM industry. Natalie Brannelly, Industry Manager at Southco discusses the emerging challenges and vulnerabilities faced by the ATM industry and how new technologies, such as electronic access systems, can help combat a range of advanced threats.

With ATM security an ongoing challenge for the industry, the ways in which criminals are accessing money and data are becoming increasingly more sophisticated following the development of new and progressive technology.  While card trapping, cash trapping, skimming and brute force may be the most common forms of ATM theft, the rise of malware crime, such as ‘jackpotting’, is a real concern to the industry, not only because of the associated costs, but also because of the wider implications on brand reputation and customer trust.

The crime involves a physical attack on the ATM topbox to access the ATM computer located inside. Once inside the topbox malware is installed on the computer via a number of potential methods, including CD ROMs, USB-based devices and smartphones, which then prompt the ATM to trigger an unauthorised pay out. With the corrupt code installed, criminals are able to send a series of commands to the ATM to dispense cash without needing to use valid cards or PINs, giving way to a cash windfall. The physical security of the ATM computer is therefore more critical than ever before in the fight against ATM crime.

Industry challenges

In 2015, there were over 18,000 ATM fraud attacks in Europe, reporting losses of over €300m and an additional €49m on physical attacks. With the ATM often remaining the main link between bank and customer, a customer’s trust in the safety and security of the ATM is paramount to the industry’s success.

Historically, various mechanical locking devices have been used on the most pivotal access points of an ATM, as well as helping to secure key internal mechanisms. However, as ATM criminals become more innovative, so too should the ATM’s locking and latching capability. To safeguard against today’s attacks, and potentially more advanced threats in the future, the industry is acknowledging that these sophisticated crimes need to be approached with more sophisticated solutions.

Innovations in ATM topbox security

Options being considered to strengthen topbox security for example, include electronic access solutions with added intelligence. Already being used within other highly secure environments, such as financial data centres, electronic access solutions are the logical next step for further enhancing an ATM’s security.  Not only can they assume complete control of the ATM topbox, allowing access only to authorised personnel, they can also provide an audit trail to record and monitor when and for how long the machine has been opened. As a result, the need for physical key management is eliminated, making unauthorised access to ATMs significantly harder.

Southco, a global leader in engineered access hardware, has worked with the world’s biggest ATM manufacturers for more than 20 years, providing the industry with a variety of both standard and customised mechanical locks and latches.

As a trusted industry supplier and a member of the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA), Southco’s recommendations on futureproofing the ATM topbox are recognised as the next step in security innovation, the objective being to support ATM manufacturers wanting to make the shift from mechanical to electronic locking and therefore improving security in the banking industry.

The Southco R4-EM, an electronic rotary latch, has been designed to integrate into the ATM’s software. When linked to a central command it has the ability to provide complete control over access to the topbox, granting access to only authorised personnel. The latch combines durable, mechanical performance with added electronic intelligence.

Southco’s Electronic Access Products are compatible with a range of access control devices such as numeric keypads, smartcard readers, Bluetooth, NFC and biometric devices. Added intelligence also provides remote monitoring, remote actuation and audit trail capabilities.

Such products give way to a more logical, layered approach to ATM security which is fast becoming industry best practice. While the challenge of ATM security will never go away, products like these can help future-proof the industry against more sophisticated attacks, saving the industry millions of pounds and restoring customer trust in the process.

Southco will be attending the ATMIA ATM Security Conference in Park Plaza, London, October 11-12 2016.

About Southco

Southco is the leading and trusted global source for engineered access hardware solutions, including a variety of latches, locks, captive fasteners, quick access fasteners, hinges, handles, inserts, electronic access solutions, and other accessories for applications in the networking, telecommunications, computer, automotive, aerospace, mass transit, off-highway/construction, medical, RV/caravan, industrial machinery, marine and HVAC industries.

Southco is passionately focused on delivering customised engineering solutions and global support for its customers. The company aspires to be a virtual engineering center for its customers’ engineered access solutions and is committed to providing outstanding quality and overall satisfaction. Southco’s promise to its customers is to connect, create and innovate to provide the best solution for every access engineering problem. www.southco.com  

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