Jackpotting Reaches the US

Manufacturers of ATMs and the U.S. Secret Service have both notified financial institutions that “jackpotting” — a worldwide cyber scheme to steal money from teller machines — has come to the United States.

The scheme, which has been used against banks in Asia and Europe for a number of years, gets its name from the fact that it causes ATMs to spew out money much like a slot machine rewarding someone with a jackpot. Criminals use a combination of both hardware and software techniques to infiltrate the machines and force them to release the cash. Recently, security specialists publicly demonstrated these techniques at a Black Hat security conference.

Over the weekend, Brian Krebs, who is a security expert that runs a website called Krebs on Security, issued a report on his site about jackpotting. He said that while until now the scheme had somehow not affected American banks, it has arrived in this country. He said that the U.S. Secret Service has witnessed jackpotting attacks at local banks and has been notifying financial institutions about them.

According to reports, ATM manufacturers Diebold Nixdorf and NCR have also sent out warnings to their customers about the scheme. They have further provided these institutions with instructions on how to prevent the scheme. While neither company has released specific information about the identities of victims or how much money has so far been stolen, Diebold has indicated that there have been attacks against some of its older, out-of-production ATMs in Mexico. NCR insists that its machines have yet to be targeted by the scheme, but that it was still concerned about it.

Krebs says that the Secret Service believes that those perpetrating jackpotting attacks have focused on standalone ATMs in specific kinds of locations, such as those in bank drive-thrus, pharmacies and big box retailers.

So far the Justice Department has not commented on the Secret Service’s warning.