Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ATM Vendor Halts Researcher’s Talk on Vulnerability

Via Wired.com -

An ATM vendor has succeeded in getting a security talk pulled from the upcoming Black Hat conference after a researcher announced he would demonstrate a vulnerability in the system.

Barnaby Jack, a researcher with Juniper Networks, was to present a demonstration showing how he could “jackpot” a popular ATM brand by exploiting a vulnerability in its software.

Jack was scheduled to present his talk at the upcoming Black Hat security conference being held in Las Vegas at the end of this month.

But on Monday evening, his employer released a statement saying it was canceling the talk due to the vendor’s intervention.

“Juniper believes that Jack’s research is important to be presented in a public forum in order to advance the state of security,” the statement read. “However, the affected ATM vendor has expressed to us concern about publicly disclosing the research findings before its constituents were fully protected. Considering the scope and possible exposure of this issue on other vendors, Juniper decided to postpone Jack’s presentation until all affected vendors have sufficiently addressed the issues found in his research.”

In the description of his talk on the conference web site, Jack wrote that, “The most prevalent attacks on Automated Teller Machines typically involve the use of card skimmers, or the physical theft of the machines themselves. Rarely do we see any targeted attacks on the underlying software. This presentation will retrace the steps I took to interface with, analyze, and find a vulnerability in a line of popular new model ATM’s. The presentation will explore both local and remote attack vectors, and finish with a live demonstration of an attack on an unmodified, stock ATM.”

Jack did not disclose the ATM brand or discuss whether the vulnerability was found in the ATM’s own software or in its underlying operating system. Diebold ATMs, one of the most popular brands, runs on a Windows operating system, as do some other brands of ATMs.

Diebold did not respond to a call for comment.

Earlier this year, Diebold released an urgent alert (.pdf) announcing that Russian hackers had installed malicious software on several of its Opteva model ATMs in Russia and Ukraine. A security researcher at SophosLabs uncovered three examples of Trojan horse programs designed to infect the ATMs and wrote a brief analysis of them. Last month another security research lab, Trustwave’s SpiderLabs, provided more in-depth analysis of malware used to attack 20 ATMs in Russia and Ukraine of various brands.

According to SpiderLabs, the attack required an insider, such as an ATM technician or anyone else with a key to the machine, to place the malware on the ATM. Once that was done, attackers could insert a control card into the machine’s card reader to trigger the malware and give them control of the machine through a custom interface and the ATM’s keypad.

The malware captured account numbers and PINs from the machine’s transaction application and then delivered it to the thief on a receipt printed from the machine in an encrypted format or to a storage device inserted in the card reader. A thief could also instruct the machine to eject whatever cash is inside the machine. A fully loaded ATM can hold up to $600,000.

It’s unclear if the talk Jack was scheduled to give addresses the same vulnerability and malware or a new kind of attack.


Weak sauce. This event shall now be known as ATMGATE!

But this move is not totally unexpected...after having beers with one of my friends @ Juniper several weeks ago...it sounded like the ATM vendor was starting to give the cold legal shoulder to Juniper....thus this being the outcome was not totally unforeseen.

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