'Jackpotting' cyberattack can drain ATM in minutes

By Mariah Medina - Digital Journalist, Bill Barajas - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - A sophisticated cyberattack targeting stand-alone ATMs could soon hurt your wallet.

The attack is referred to as "jackpotting" because the hack causes the ATM to spew bills, emptying the machine in minutes, in a manner similar to the way a slot machine pays out.

Security experts say crooks pose as repairmen, break into the ATM and then install malware forcing the machine to spit out the cash.

The crime ultimately costs banks. While it doesn't necessarily affect ATM users, banks could soon start to increase fees and pricing to make up their losses.

University of Texas at San Antonio cybersecurity professor David Dampier said ATMs located in pharmacies, gas stations and drive-thrus are the most vulnerable.

"They have to have physical access to the machine, too," Dampier said. "It's not like you can remotely hack into an ATM machine." 

Jackpotting has happened overseas and the U.S. secret service said it's finally hitting the states. 

Just last month, three men were indicted for trying to jackpot an ATM in the Houston area. 

The local Secret Service field office said it hasn't heard of any incidents in South Texas, but law enforcement agencies around the nation have been put on alert. 

Those who suspect someone may be tampering with an ATM machine, including "jackpotting," are asked to report any suspicious activity to authorities.


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