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
    Jim, 21 Sep 2006 @ 11:46am

    Re: Nine Days??

    The issue isn't that the bank will be out of money, it will be the owner of the ATM. The owner of ATMs are not always banks, but often, in this situation, the owner of the ATM is the owner of the gas station. What happens is the person requested to withdraw $20, and the misprogrammed ATM spit out 4 $20 bills. The user's back only got a request to transfer $20 from the user's account to the account of the owner of the ATM. The bank deducted $20, the owner recieved $20. However, it cost the owner $100 worth of cash. The user's bank doesn't care how much cash was actually released to the user. It was asked for $20, and obliged. The owner of the ATM will be the one that is out the money. It took 9 days for someone to report it to the gas station. The person/company that stocks the ATM just gets a request to stock the machine with the standard bills. The stack of bills cost the owner x amount, but the cost of the bills and the income from the transfers from the user's bank would probably only be reconciled once a month. Until the reconcilliation the owner would probably not notice something was wrong.

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