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March 17th, 2009

Diebold ATM Software Targeted By Card-sniffing Trojans

Security researchers from Sophos have discovered sophisticated malware that siphons payment card information out of automatic teller machines made by Diebold and possibly other manufacturers.

Sophos researcher Vanja Svajcer found three samples after combing through VirusTotal and a similar online database earlier this month. If installed, all three trojans contained functions that allowed them to log information recorded by an ATM’s magnetic card reader.

They also appeared to include routines for encrypting the stolen data and instructions for retrieving the captured passwords using the ATM’s printing capabilities. That would allow mules outfitted with the proper codes to fetch the pilfered information from the targeted machines.

Diebold became aware of the trojans in January, after an incident “isolated in Russia” attempted to use the malware to intercept sensitive information, according to an advisory the company sent its customers. Suspects in the incident have been apprehended, and Diebold is working with authorities “to assist with the investigation into these recent crimes,” the advisory added. Diebold has also offered a software update as a precautionary measure.

The Sophos researcher said this appears to be the first time malware has been uncovered that specifically targets banking ATMs. That said, it’s not unusual for cybercriminals to steal payment card information by tampering with point-of-sale terminals. In October, for example, organized crime syndicates managed to doctor hundreds of card swipers used by UK-based retail outlets. The attack resulted in the estimated loss of tens of millions of pounds.

The trojans uncovered by Svajcer target Diebold software known as Agilis 91x, which can manage large fleets of ATMs made by Diebold and other manufacturers. Little is known about the malware’s authors. Functionality that converts currency between US dollars, Russian rubles, and Ukrainian grivna leads him to believe they have ties to Eastern Europe.

Both Svajcer and Zacheroff stressed the trojan could only be installed by someone who had physical access to an ATM, since the devices, obviously, don’t have floppy drives and typically run only on private isolated networks. That means the malware could most likely be installed only with help of an insider or in the event passwords weren’t managed properly.

Credit: The Register

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