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Malware & Threats

New ATM Malware Allows Attackers to Physically Steal Cards

A recently discovered piece of malware allows cybercriminals to physically steal credit and debit cards inserted into automated teller machines (ATMs), researchers at FireEye warned on Friday.

A recently discovered piece of malware allows cybercriminals to physically steal credit and debit cards inserted into automated teller machines (ATMs), researchers at FireEye warned on Friday.

The malware, which based on its timestamp was created on August 25, 2015, has been dubbed “Suceful.” Its name stems from the message displayed by the malware when everything operates properly.

ATM malware can be highly efficient. Over the past years, researchers analyzed several attacks in which malicious actors are believed to have stolen large amounts of money using threats such as Ploutus and Tyupkin.

ATM malware is usually installed on machines via their USB ports or CD-ROM drives. However, it’s unclear if Suceful has been used in real world attacks because FireEye analyzed a sample of the malware uploaded to VirusTotal by a user in Russia. Experts believe Suceful might still be under development, but its capabilities make it a noteworthy threat.

According to the security firm, Suceful is capable of reading data from the payment card’s magnetic stripe and chip, and disabling ATM sensors. The malware, which attackers can control from the ATM’s PIN pad, also includes a feature that hasn’t been seen at other such threats: it can retain and eject inserted cards to allow fraudsters to physically steal them.

The malware communicates with the ATM hardware via XFS, a standard that provides a client-server architecture for devices used in the financial industry, such as ATMs and electronic payment systems.

XFS is vendor independent, allowing manipulation of financial services devices via a common API. Service providers such as NCR, Diebold, Wincor and Triton have implemented their own version of XFS, with each vendor providing functionality for its hardware via Service Provider Interfaces (SPIs).

These XFS middleware platforms are generally secure, but the fact that they also support the default template allows malicious software to communicate with the ATM.

Suceful appears to be designed to target NCR and Diebold ATMs. Once it infects a device, the malware can start sending commands to read payment card data, including cardholder name, account number, expiration date, and encrypted PIN.

Attackers can also instruct the device to block the card in the device. If victims walk away from the machine thinking that there’s nothing they can do to recover the card, the attackers can use the ATMs keypad to instruct the device to eject the card.

Cybercrooks can also use Suceful to enable or disable indicators and sensors, including proximity, alarm and door sensors. This allows them to conduct malicious activities without triggering alarms.

“Suceful is the first multi-vendor ATM Malware targeting cardholders, created to steal the tracks of the debit cards but also to steal the actual physical cards, which is definitely raising the bar of sophistication of this type of threats,” FireEye researchers wrote in a blog post.

Written By

Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.

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