ATM attacks are not profitable to criminals any more

Attacks on ATMs in European countries using malware and jackpotting were not profitable in the first half of 2019. The criminals managed to earn less than 1000 euros for one successful robbery.

According to the report of the European Association for Secure Transactions (EAST), during this period, banks reported a total of 35 attacks on ATMs throughout Europe. In 3 attacks, was used malware, in other cases – jackpotting. According to experts, losses of banks decreased by 100% (from 0.25 million euros to 0.00 million euros), and only in one case was a small damage recorded (less than 1000 euros).

However, as is the case with malware for ATMs, jackpotting is used less and less.

“The main reason is that such attacks permanently destroy ATMs, require expensive tools and a lot of time to complete. In this regard, the criminals resorted to methods that can be used countless times, for example, skimming or fraud with cancellation of transactions”, – inform IB banking services.

For many years, both types of attacks have been very successful in Europe, causing damage ranging from 250 to 350 million euros per year. However, according to the latest EAST report, in the first half of 2019, the use of skimming devices reached a record low and gave way to the less well-known method of canceling transactions.

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Fraud with cancellation of a transaction, or TRF attack (transaction reversal fraud), involves the use of errors in the normal mode of operation of an ATM. As part of a TRF attack, fraudsters enter a valid card into an ATM, the correct PIN code and request a cash withdrawal. However, when the ATM removes the payment card, the offender leaves it in the ATM slot.

“Attackers deliberately leave the card at an ATM until it finds that the card is stuck and it is necessary to cancel the previous bank transaction, actually re-adding money to the fraudster’s account”, – say the researchers.

At this stage, criminal may use a tool (for example, a screwdriver) to force the opening of the ATM shutter and receive money that were previously prepared for issuance for a canceled transaction.

Such attacks have become the predominant form of ATM fraud in Europe. They accounted for 5649 cases in the first half of 2019 (against 2292 last year) and 45% of all cases of ATM fraud.

According to EAST forecasts, this trend will continue in the foreseeable future – the number of malware, jackpotting and skimmers will decrease, and TRF attacks, on the contrary, will increase.


Jackpotting (Jackpotting) – a type of attack that suggests use by cybercriminals of external electronic devices, or malware, with which they manage to gain control over the hardware component of the ATM.

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James Brown

Technology news writer and part-time security researcher. Author of how-to articles related to Windows computer issue solving.

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