ATM skimmers are widely adopted by crooks to steal payment card data, in the last months, experts observed an increase in the number of cyber attacks against ATM involving so-called ‘insert skimmers.’
In response, financial institutions are adopting a variety of technological measures designed to defeat skimming devices, but crooks are now involving a small, battery powered device that is able to detect digital anti-skimming technology.
According to the popular investigator Brian Krebs, a well-known skimmer thief is marketing a product called ‘Smart Shield Detector’ claiming that this device is able to detect a variety of anti-skimming technology used by financial institutions.
“The device, which sells for $200, is called a ‘Smart Shield Detector,’ and promises to detect “all kinds of noise shields, hidden shields, delayed shields and others!”” wrote Krebs.
“It appears to be a relatively simple machine that gives a digital numeric indicator of whether an ATM uses any of a variety of anti-skimming methods.”
The device is able to determine if an ATM uses an anti-skimming method such as the “frequency jamming,” that relies on electronic signals to scramble both the clock (timing) and the card data itself in a bid to interfere with skimming devices.
“You will see current level within seconds!,” says the seller in an online ad for the Smart Shield Detector. “Available for sale after November 1st, market price 200usd. Preorders available at price 150usd/device. 2+ devices for your team – will give discounts.”
As you can see in the following video, low level (a score between 3-5) means that the ATM isn’t protected by any anti-skimmer shield, while a readout of 15 or higher indicates the presence of some type of electronic shield or jamming technology.
The following video was shared with Krebs by Alex Holden, founder of Hold Security.
The Smart Shield Detector is a very precious instrument for thieves that can avoid attacking protected ATM.
“KrebsOnSecurity shared this video with Charlie Harrow, solutions manager for ATM maker NCR Corp. Harrow called the device “very interesting” but said NCR doesn’t try to hide which of its ATM include anti-skimming technologies — such as those that claim to be detectable by the Smart Shield Detector.” continues Krebs.
“The bad guys are skilled, resourced and determined enough that sooner or later they will figure out exactly what we have done, so the ATM has to be safe against a knowledgeable attacker,” Harrow said. “That said, a little secret sauce doesn’t hurt, and can often be very effective in stopping specific attack [methods] in the short term, but it can’t be relied on to provide any long term protection.”
A good habit for bank customers while using ATM consist of covering the PIN pad with your hand while you enter your PIN, this precaution is effective against the majority of cases in which crooks use a skimmer and a tiny hidden camera to read the PIN while customers are entering it.
Users can also check the presence a fake keypad that could be placed over the top of the genuine keypad on an ATM as a means of stealing card data.
Another recommendation is to avoid using ATM located outside banks in not controlled places., be aware of your physical surroundings while using an ATM; you’re probably more apt to get mugged physically than virtually at a cash machine. Finally, try to stick to cash machines that are physically installed inside of banks, as these tend to be much more challenging for thieves to compromise than stand-alone machines like those commonly found at convenience stores.
If you are interested in skimming activity, give a look at the Krebs’s material about skimming scam (All About Skimmers)
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(Security Affairs – skimmers, Smart Shield Detector)