Is your ATM security keeping the bases covered?
by Mark Smith, business development director, MVP Financial Equipment
ATM crimes are on the rise in the United States, especially since many ATM deployers have yet to upgrade their terminals to EMV, and debit cards issued by American financial institutions still include a mag stripe, which is easy to duplicate.
Beyond popular ATM exploits such as card shimming and card skimming, other common types of attack include everything from brute force smash-and-grab raids to high-tech logical attacks.
Recently, U.S. ATM deployers have also begun to see more unusual types of ATM crime such as jackpotting and explosive attacks. Both have been a problem in other parts of the world for years, but they were largely unseen on these shores until EMV made card skimming and cloning a much less profitable enterprise for criminals.
According to a new white paper, Improving ATM Security, familiarity with your ATM terminals is one of the best ways to secure cash and sensitive information, since knowledgeable technicians have a better chance of spotting signs of tampering and malicious hardware on a unit.
Placement of ATM terminals can also have an impact on security. When considering potential ATM locations, first obtain a criminal activity report from local law enforcement.
According to ATM Safety and Security Tips, a Los Angeles Police Department publication, this helps to ensure that terminals are installed in the safest possible locations, and that customers are comfortable using them. And, of course, locations that are safer for customers are also more secure for ATM owners. The criminal activity report can also help determine what type of security would best suit each location.
As threats to ATMs evolve, so too do security measures. To keep your ATM terminals secure, explore the following security options:
- Physical Barriers — Concrete pylons or bollards create a physical barricade around the ATM. Designed to sustain high levels of impact and prevent damage to store fronts and free-standing ATMs, these security measures help prevent smash-and-grab attacks.
Other physical deterrents include "body armor" that clads the terminal in steel plating. Additionally, anchor kits allow you to bolt the ATM to the ground for an extra layer of security. Most anchor kits are designed to withstand high impacts.
- Physical Security — Many attacks happen at the most vulnerable point on the ATM — the top cabinet.
Upgrading locks and managing key access is a sound method of preventing unauthorized entry to the part of the terminal that houses the main board and dispenser connections.
Update Software — The slow migration to EMV has left ATMs in the U.S. susceptible to a variety of cyberattacks. Installing software updates and security patches in a timely manner is vital to protecting the terminal’s operating system from unauthorized downloads of malware and skimming software. Regularly updating access passwords and monitoring employees and technicians who have access to the ATM adds another layer of security.
Investing in security management software with remote diagnosis or other monitoring solutions allows ATM owners and operators to manage and monitor terminals in real time. Most security software contains features that scan for unusual transaction and/or service activity at each ATM and send alerts when suspicious activity is recorded.
- Alarms installed at ATM access points will notify site staff that the terminal has been breached, adding another layer of security.
The proper combination of prevention strategy and technology can greatly reduce the risk to ATM terminals.
Download the white paper, Improving ATM Security.
Mark Smith is business development director at MVP Financial Equipment, a U.S.-based ATM refurbishment and parts distribution company. He manages the value-added resellers program at MVP, which serves financial institutions with a wide range of advanced and affordable products and services that can help FIs increase sales and provide an optimal customer experience. Connect with Mark via email or on LinkedIn.
- Update Software — The slow migration to EMV has left ATMs in the U.S. susceptible to a variety of cyberattacks. Installing software updates and security patches in a timely manner is vital to protecting the terminal’s operating system from unauthorized downloads of malware and skimming software. Regularly updating access passwords and monitoring employees and technicians who have access to the ATM adds another layer of security.
- Video Cameras — Installing surveillance cameras acts as crime deterrent and helps protect both the ATM deployer and customers. Video cameras can be installed at the site to monitor the ATM and surrounding area or on the terminal itself. Even when thieves wear hats, sunglasses, etc. those items can still act as identifiers for local law enforcement.