ATM Malware Lets Hackers Withdraw Free Money — Is This The Future Of Crime?

It turns out printing your own money could be as easy as going to the ATM. Interpol is alerting countries all over the world that numerous ATMs have been infected with a backdoor program that can enable criminals to withdraw free cash using a specific keypad sequence. Now that sounds like a payday.

The malware responsible, known as Tyupkin, has so far mostly only been found in Russian ATMs. However Kaspersky Lab, who originally discovered the hack, believes it may also be present in some ATMs in other countries as well, including in the United States, India, and China. They also see this latest attack as the natural evolution of ATM scams — instead of trying to get individuals' ATM codes, criminals are now targeting banks directly. Kaspersky initially conducted their investigation "at the request of a financial institution," though they did not specify which one.

Apparently, in order to infect a particular ATM with this program, a person needs physical access to the ATM in order to install Tyupkin via CD. Once an ATM has been infected, a person can input a specific code into the keypad and withdraw 40 notes. Assuming you can select the denomination of the notes, that's potentially a lot of cash.

Unfortunately for any would-be criminals out there, gaining unlimited wealth isn't as simple as finding out what the secret code might be and then inputting it into random ATMs until you get lucky. The program also requires a second, uniquely generated code for each individual withdrawal, which presumably is meant to ensure that the hacker or hackers who engineered the program can retain control over their creation. So those of us who might be tempted to try our hand at being criminal ATM users will just have to accept disappointment and continue our law-abiding ways.

On the bright side, though, this hack doesn't actually hurt any average individuals, unlike when criminals steal someone's ATM codes. The money that Tyupkin provides is not withdrawn from any person's account, but rather just comes right out of the pocket of the bank itself. So if this is the future of ATM crime, I suppose it could be worse. After all, stealing is bad, but if there are going to be people out there stealing, I'd just as soon they go after the giant financial institutions and leave us little guys out of it.

Image: Giphy