Police suspect malware enabled $2.5M ATM heist last week in Taiwan
Police in Taiwan suspect malware was a key part of the ATM theft. On Sunday police say they had arrested three out of 16 foreign suspects they believe hacked into the cash machines of a major local bank, withdrawing more than $2 million.
They are accused of targeting First Bank’s ATMs last week, using malware to withdraw more than T$80 million ($2.5 million) from dozens of machines.
“This is the first time that an international team of ATM thieves has committed a crime in Taiwan,” Lee Wen-chang, chief commander of the Criminal Investigation Division, told reporters. Authorities are still investigating exactly how the crime was carried out, he said.
The suspects may have used a cellphone to target 41 First Bank ATMs, investigators said on Wednesday. Investigators have identified three different suspect malware programs that were used to trigger withdrawals.
To prevent additional losses, First Bank has suspended the operation of 300 of its 768 ATMs nationwide. The prosecutors’ office instructed them to check for malware in their systems. In May, a gang stole $13 million from Japanese ATMs in a three-hour, 14,000 withdrawal spree.
The incident caused First Bank and other Taiwanese banks, including Taiwan Cooperative Bank, to temporarily shut down system and check for any malwares; While the authorities continue to search for the thieves reported to be from Russian Federation and eastern Europe.
Malware vs. ATM
Malware attacks on the ATM are becoming more commonplace and proving a growing problem for security officers. In these attacks, many ATMs are attacked at the same time causing major losses over very short time frame.
“These were ‘cash out’ or ‘jackpotting’ attacks and all occurred on the same ATM type from a single ATM deployer in one country,” EAST Director Lachlan Gunn wrote. “While many ATM Malware attacks have been seen over the past few years in Russia, Ukraine and parts of Latin America, this is the first time that such attacks have been reported in Western Europe. This is a worrying new development for the industry in Europe.”
Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are no longer just affected by the physical attempt of emptying the money safe. Now logical attacks on ATMs are slowly being recognized as an emerging threat by the security industry and law enforcement agencies. ATM malware had been detected by various researchers for a few years now and we have already seen incidents of their successful use. For this type of crime, malware, specifically targeting ATMs, is employed. The shift to the digital means of attack reveals a realization among criminal groups–that the use of malware is an easier and safer way to steal money and card information from ATMs. Trend Micro blog
More Here [Reuters]