Bogus ATMs discovered at Vegas hacker conference

Jake Turcotte/The Christian Science Monitor

Back in April we told you about a global ATM skimming ring that was traced back to Romania. This week another ATM scam popped up in Las Vegas – at the DEFCON security conference, no less.

The no-armed bandit showed up in one of the cleverest, or most unlikely, spots in the Riviera Hotel Casino, depending on how you look at it. Why the dichotomy? It was positioned in a rare location not watched by a security camera. The flipside? It was right outside the casino's security office.

Aries Security CEO Brian Markus spotted the machine and pointed it out to hotel security, according to Wired.

Markus said it was clear to him the ATM was fake when he looked at the smoked glass on the front of the machine and noticed something funny about it. When he beamed a flashlight through the glass, instead of seeing a camera behind it, he saw the PC that was set up to siphon card data.

Las Vegas may not be the area with the highest concentration of ATMs – that designation goes to Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., which has over 50 in just a two-block vicinity – but the machines are certainly ubiquitous in a town known for a need for quick cash.

The illicit Riviera ATM wasn't the only one found in Vegas this week. PC World reports that the Secret Service is investigating reports of hacked ATMs across the city. At the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino DEFCON presenter Chris Paget reported trying unsuccessfully to withdraw cash from one, but still having his account debited.

He wasn't the only one. Paget spoke with an Israeli man who had tried to withdraw $1,000, as well as a woman who tried to take out $400. At least a half dozen people experienced the same problem at various machines in the hotel, Paget said.

Channel Web reports that, "In an ironic twist, a scheduled presentation titled "Jackpotting Automated Teller Machines" at the conference by Juniper Networks researcher Barnaby Jack was scrapped because of an unnamed ATM vendor, who cited security reasons, according to SC Magazine."


The other headline from the Las Vegas hacker conferences last week: "Could a text message be used to take over your iPhone?" Keep up with the latest from Horizons by following us on Twitter. We're @CSMHorizonsBlog.

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