Reprogramming Your ATM For Fun And For Profit (Mainly For Profit)

from the not-so-hard-at-all dept

There was some buzz last week after CNN showed a video of an ATM machine that had been programmed to believe it had $5 bills instead of $20s (so any withdrawal actually gave you 4X the money you asked for). The guy who did this just walked in and knew the code to reprogram the ATM. He then left the ATM programmed that way, and the ATM gave a lot of people extra money for nine days before someone pointed out the problem. So how easy would it be for anyone else to do this? Apparently it's ridiculously easy. With a bit of hunting online, it's not too hard to obtain a copy of the manual for the type of ATM machine used, including instructions on how to switch it to diagnostic mode. You do need a password, but the manual lists the typical default passwords that it seems likely many of these ATM owners failed to switch. Hopefully, this new burst of publicity over the issue will encourage owners of the machines to change their passwords -- but if you happen to see certain ATMs with unusually long lines in the near future (and don't mind committing fraud), you might want to withdraw some money.

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  1. identicon
    Beth, 21 Sep 2006 @ 11:02am

    Who got Screwed?

    that's the real question. Everyone keeps talking about banks. kbob88 points out that often in convience stores it is not a banks' ATM, it is a privately-owned ATM. I worked for a bar that didn't take credit cards so they got a lease-to-own ATM. We were responsible for setting it up and putting money in ourselves. There was not an armoured Briggs truck from MegaBank coming to fill it up. When the machine was empty every week or so, we opened the bar safe and put more money in in the machine. Every month we would get a percentage of the service charge deposited into the bar's checking account. It would take a long time for us to realize that we were going through an abnormal abount of money (assuming people were coming back for more). Who would get screwed in this case? The company that was putting money into the machine, not the bank, they don't own the machine and are not responsible if it gets reprogrammed. Does screwing a convience store owner change anyone's opinion if it's wrong or not?

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