All About Skimmers

Last summer, financial institutions throughout Texas started reporting a sudden increase in attacks involving well-orchestrated teams that would show up at night, use stolen trucks and heavy chains to rip Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) out of their foundations, and make off with the cash boxes inside. Now it appears the crime — known variously as “ATM smash-and-grab” and “chain gang” attacks — is rapidly increasing in other states.

Read More Spike in “Chain Gang” Destructive Attacks on ATMs

In 2015, police departments worldwide started finding ATMs compromised with advanced new “shimming” devices made to clone data from chip card transactions. Authorities in the United States and abroad had seized many of these shimmers, but for years couldn’t decrypt the data on the devices. This is a story of ingenuity and happenstance, and how one former Secret Service agent helped crack a code that revealed the contours of a global organized crime ring.

Read More How Cyber Sleuths Cracked an ATM Shimmer Gang

Easily the most sophisticated skimming devices made for hacking terminals at retail self-checkout lanes are a new breed of PIN pad overlay combined with a flexible, paper-thin device that fits inside the terminal’s chip reader slot. What enables these skimmers to be so slim? They draw their power from the low-voltage current that gets triggered when a chip-based card is inserted. As a result, they do not require external batteries, and can remain in operation indefinitely.

Read More Checkout Skimmers Powered by Chip Cards

The leader of Mexico’s Green Party has been removed from office following allegations that he received money from a Romanian ATM skimmer gang that stole hundreds of millions of dollars from tourists visiting Mexico’s top tourist destinations over the past five years. The scandal is the latest fallout stemming from a three-part investigation into the organized crime group by KrebsOnSecurity in 2015.

Read More Mexican Politician Removed Over Alleged Ties to Romanian ATM Skimmer Gang

As a total sucker for anything skimming-related, I was interested to hear from a reader working security for a retail chain in the United States that recently found bluetooth-enabled skimming devices placed over top of payment card terminals at several stores. Interestingly, these skimmers interfered with the terminal’s ability to read chip-based cards, forcing customers to swipe the stripe instead.

Read More Bluetooth Overlay Skimmer That Blocks Chip