Romanian cops have taken down a suspected ATM gang that used malware to trick machines into disgorging their cash contents.
This operation, billed as one of the first of its kind in Europe, resulted in multiple house searches in Romania and the Republic of Moldova and the arrest of eight individuals.
Police reckon the alleged crooks used the Tyupkin ATM malware (first seen 2014, more details and video link in earlier Reg report here) to manipulate ATMs across Europe before stealing cash.
Romanian cops were assisted in the cybercrime disruption op by EU-wide police agencies Europol and Eurojust as well as a number of European law enforcement authorities.
In a statement, Europol explains the workings of the alleged op, without giving an estimate of the losses suffered by banks as a result of the carefully orchestrated fraud.
The criminal group, composed of Romanian and Moldovan nationals, was involved in large scale ATM "Jackpotting", causing substantial losses across Europe to the ATM industry. ATM "Jackpotting" refers to the use of a Trojan horse, physically launched via an executable file in order to target an ATM, thus allowing the attackers to empty the ATM cash cassettes via direct manipulation, using the ATM PIN pad to submit commands to the Trojan.
Malware-based attacks against ATMs, which first appeared in Russia around 2010 and are these days particularly prevalent in Mexico, are starting to spread worldwide, posing an increasing threat for Western European banks in the process.
Wil van Gemert, Europol's deputy director operations at its European Cybercrime Centre, added: "Over the last few years we have seen a major increase in ATM attacks using malicious software. The sophisticated cybercrime aspect of these cases illustrates how offenders are constantly identifying new ways to evolve their methodologies to commit crimes. To match these new technologically savvy criminals, it is essential, as it was done in this case, that law enforcement agencies cooperate with their counterparts via Europol to share information and collaborate on transnational investigations".
Europol's European Cybercrime Centre has prepared security guidelines regarding this new cyber threat to ATMs. The production of this document was coordinated by EAST (the European ATM Security Team). ®