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Protecting ATMs from Jackpotting & Other Threats: A Must for Credit Unions

by Darren Smith | Originally published by CUInsight

In difficult economic times, consumers regularly turn to cash and ATMs for their financial needs. Unfortunately, so do criminals who are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods of attacking ATMs and stealing cash. Even with harsh federal penalties in place, crimes against ATMs continue to grow at an alarming rate.

ATM Jackpotting: A Growing Threat

The United States Secret Service Criminal Investigative Division has reported a significant uptick in ATM jackpotting attacks over the last six months. Jackpotting refers to a type of malware attack that targets the ATM's hard drive, forcing the machine to dispense all its cash on demand.


There are several common methods used in jackpotting attacks:

  1. Using malware to attack the ATM's hard drive and issue commands to dispense cash.

  2. Connecting an external device to hack into the machine, disconnect the dispenser, and then send dispense commands to empty the cash.

  3. Interrupting the connection to the ATM's processor to impersonate transaction approval and dispense cash without debiting an account.

ATM Crime Goes Global

While ATM crime may not be as rampant in the United States as it currently is in Europe, it's becoming an increasingly global phenomenon. Criminals no longer need extensive technical skills to launch attacks, as there are a wealth of black-market marketplaces and communication forums that offer hacking software complete with detailed video instructions on how to perform an attack.


Perhaps even worse, FBI crime experts note some U.S. gangs are now using ATM attacks as a key component in initiation rituals. It seems like no ATM, point of sale, or cash access point is safe from these sophisticated criminal enterprises.

How Can You Secure Your ATM Fleet

To keep ATMs safe and protect your financial institution's assets, it's crucial to implement robust security measures. Here are some best practices:


  1. Keep Hardware and Software Up to Date: Regularly update ATM software and operating systems to patch vulnerabilities and prevent exploitation.

  2. Encrypt Hard Drives: Ensure that all ATM hard drives are encrypted to prevent data theft and tampering.

  3. Secure network communication: Implement TLS encryption for all network communications to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks.

  4. Use Unique Credentials: Don't rely on default ATM keys, PINs, or other login credentials, which can be easily compromised.

  5. Implement Multi-Factor Access Controls: Require multi-factor authentication for service technicians, armored couriers, and other personnel who need access to ATMs.

Outsourcing ATM Management for Enhanced Security

While implementing these security measures is essential, managing an entire ATM fleet can be a daunting task for banks and credit unions. Outsourcing your ATMs to a reliable ATM provider might be the best solution to address growing ATM security concerns.


By partnering with an experienced ATM outsourcing provider, the responsibility for adhering to regulations, maintaining security, and managing cash logistics shifts to the provider. These providers have dedicated teams of experts who specialize in ATM security, compliance, and operations, ensuring your ATMs remain secure and compliant with industry standards.


Moreover, ATM outsourcing providers typically invest in the latest security technologies and employ best practices to protect their ATM networks. This includes advanced encryption, intrusion detection systems, and continuous monitoring for potential threats.


Choosing the right partner is crucial. Look for a provider with a proven track record in ATM security, comprehensive security certifications, and a commitment to staying ahead of emerging threats. By outsourcing your fleet to a trusted provider, you can focus on your core business operations while ensuring your account holders have secure access to cash and financial services.


In today's landscape of escalating ATM crime, financial institutions must prioritize ATM security to protect their assets, maintain user trust, and comply with regulatory requirements. By implementing robust security measures, staying vigilant against emerging threats, and outsourcing to a reputable ATM provider, banks and credit unions can mitigate the risks associated with ATM attacks and ensure the safety of their account holders' financial transactions.

Worried about ATM crime? Talk to us about how an ATM Outsourcing program can help eliminate the risk to your financial institution.  

Craig Helmers, Vice President, ATM Management

Darren Smith, Vice President, ATM Management  • 919-534-3232 • Schedule a Meeting 


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