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
    ReaderRick, 21 Sep 2006 @ 1:02pm

    Looking at the manual [section 3.28-3.29], you can easily see that if someone wanted to they could have changed the $20's slot to "25 free coupons" ($500) and emptied the ATM. They could have also reset the password which - if he wanted to make a point, would have been the "proper" thing to do. Telling the owner that you can reprogram their ATM would likely end with you in handcuffs, but reset their pwd and a change the rotating advert to announce the owner's ignorance...priceless.

    Is the guy a criminal for accessing a public machine and playing with it's settings? Yes, his crime would be criminal mischief. Although intent of damage is not apparent, pecuniary (monetary) loss has occurred. Whoever set up the machine is negligent and also shares in the guilt.

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