Hacker group attacks ATMs all across Europe, threat growing in Asia and USA

Technology - Himanshu Gill - Nov 23,2016

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hacker group attacks atms all across europe threat growing in asia and usa

A hacker group called Cobalt is constantly targeting ATM’s across Europe using malicious software that forces the machine to spit out cash, according to a Russian cyber security firm Group IB.

Cyber criminals have attacked over a dozen countries across Europe this year including the United Kingdom, Russia, Romania, the Netherlands, Belarus, Armenia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Poland and Spain. New reports have suggested that, the same group has also hacked ATMs in Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand. Group IB refused to disclose the names of the banks that have been robbed. The only disclosure that came was that, the hackers have stolen over $325,000 from Thailand’s Government Savings Bank (GSB).

Two of the world’s biggest ATM manufacturers, NCR and Diebold Nixdorf, have confirmed the reports and said that they are working with the customers in efforts to reduce the threat. Dmitry Volkov, Group IB threat intelligence head, said that these hackers are likely to attack more ATMs in the future.

The recent thefts in Europe and Asia are run from centrally commanded centers. This assists the criminals to target large number of machines in hit and grab operations that seek to drain large amounts of cash before banks uncover the hacks. Researchers at Group IB said that, they believe Cobalt is linked to a well-known cybercrime syndicate called Buhtrap, which stole $28 million from Russian banks between August 2015 and January 2016.

Nicholas Billett, senior director at Diebold Nixdorf, said that they are taking robbery to a next level by attacking a large number of machines at once. However, he believes that the group will be tracked down very soon.

Earlier in the month, it was also reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has sent private alerts to US banks, cautioning them to remain alert and watch out for ATM attacks; following the recent high-profile ATM cyber heists.