Trends in ATM Security

Skimming, shimming, sniffing…no they’re not symptoms of the latest flu bug but this outbreak is equally as unhealthy for the ATM community. Add side effects caused by malware, network attacks and black box attacks, and you have an environment that can make you afraid to even get out of bed in the morning.

ATM attacks and crimes have been extremely active over the past year. We have seen card skimming attacks nearly triple in the United States.  And we have noted the rapid global expansion of “logical” attacks – which use tools that allow the criminal to take physical control of the ATM dispenser to withdraw money – with millions in losses. In light of these trends and statistics, what are the key trends for 2016?

Taking action. In our conversations with ATM operators we are beginning to see a much more progressive and proactive view about the deployment of security solutions. Today, more than ever, solutions exist to help provide protection against the main forms of attack. More and more customers are reassessing their risk tolerance and finally deciding that investment in security solutions makes more financial sense when weighed against the potential loss of dollars, brand reputation and customers as a result of an attack.

Deployment of anti-skimming solutions. While common in many markets, some regions have lagged in their interest to deploy anti-skimming solutions. The rapid rise in attacks in the U.S. has led many financial institutions to become more aggressive in their deployment of skimming security solutions. Adding to this, we have seen some great success stories coming from customers who were early adopters of these solutions. ATM operators need to keep in mind that card data breach is not just occurring at the card-entry bezel. Protection needs to be deployed on and inside the bezel, around the card reader, and within the network connections – both with encryption and with the physical protection of the cables.

Implementation of EMV chip cards at the ATM. October 2016 marks the date of MasterCard’s liability shift at the ATM. Financial institutions should be in their final stages of deployment of smart card readers, EMV software implementation at the kernel level, and ensuring that their network transactions are fully EMV compliant in order to avoid any issues and liabilities down the road.

Protecting to the core. The rise in the frequency and complexity of logical attacks – also known as “cash-out” or “jackpotting” attacks because the machine starts spitting out bills like a casino gaming machine – should lead to more ATM operators deploying security solutions to protect the internal computing and infrastructure of the ATM. Hard disc encryption and protecting the BIOS will reduce the risk of “offline” malware attacks. Deployment of whitelisting solutions that prevent the execution of unauthorized code on ATM systems remain the best method to protect against “online” malware attacks. Since this is new to many ATM operators, NCR has published a whitepaper with guidance on configuration and deployment best practices.

What else is ahead for 2016? We see this year as one of expansion of the use of contactless chip card transactions. And we see growing interest in the deployment of enterprise level fraud management platforms to reduce losses at the ATM and other channels.


Owen Wild leads the marketing strategy for the NCR Security Solutions portfolio. Over the past 15 years, Owen held several sales and marketing positions with some of the leading technology companies in North America.

Written by Owen Wild

Owen Wild

Owen is responsible for marketing strategies for the NCR Security Solutions within NCR’s Financial Solution Portfolio. Over the past 15 years, Owen has held several sales and marketing positions with leading travel and tech companies.

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