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Atm Security – Importance of Atm Security

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  • Pages: 8
  • Word count: 1779
  • Category: Security

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Nowadays people prefer a faster way to access their bank accounts. So that they would not spend time waiting in a line in the bank. It would be a great hindrance in their fast moving life style. This is where ATMs are very important. “People use ATMs without even thinking twice. But not all of them think about the security risks involved. The use of ATM is on a rise and so is the number of crimes involved”. Having said that, it is very important for us as users to understand the benefits and vulnerabilities of present day ATMs’ security. Have you ever realized that the bridge between the hundreds and millions in your bank account and a system hacker is constructed by a thin layer of uncertain security issues of ATMs? A sound technical knowledge alone is enough for a hacker to rob you to the last penny.

Now it is scary isn’t it? So this report will analyze to a certain extant about the issues and perspectives related to ATM security that is generally missed of ignored both by the banks and the customers or ATM users. Both these parties are bound to know how vulnerable ATM security is these days. This will also go through some controversial issues ignored by the users and avoided by the banks in their ATMs from Social, Legal, and Ethical perspectives.

Importance of ATM security

Having a solid security to ATMs is very vital for banks to maintain their quality service and reputation. Most leading and established banks do consider this fact as a top priority when you have a reliable security to your ATMs there are many positive outcomes. Mainly you will win the customers’ trust and loyalty, reduction of financial losses due to technical and non-technical robberies, and added security will improve the rate of transactions and eventually the banks can profit through it.

Social issues and impacts

Issues related to ATM security have a very indirect impact on the society. Due to that people tend to give less consideration to these issues. They only think about it during the after math of a severe security breach in their ATMs. By having a good security system it will prevent and reduce crimes, thefts and misunderstandings to a great extant in the society. The users generally have a bit of an uncertainty when it comes to ATMs and its frequent usage. They are not sure about the safety around an unprotected ATM outlet. This is like an invitation for crimes and robberies in the town. As a result it will be difficult to enjoy a crime free pleasant environment. Upgrading the ATMs security will provide relief mentally to the users and assists in building a concrete relationship between the customers and banks. This is very vital in an economically developing society. If a crime occurs the victims may experience traumatic injuries in case if the financial losses are big or very important to them. So banks should realize that they are not always handling rich businessmen but also desperate middle-class people who rely and trust its security and safety.

An Ethical Dimension

As security becomes a commonly considered feature in ATMs today, there are some opposing perspectives or ethical dilemmas to face with. The reason for this is there are two parties involved with security issues, the banks and the customers. The banks consistently and firmly focus more towards preventing crimes and providing a flawless service to the society. Where customers, as human, will always require safety and privacy at the same time. So when discussing security of ATMs there are controversial issues that are in practice presently. Is it ethical to collect visual data through security cameras in ATM outlets? According to consequentalist theory it might look ethical to have security cameras for safety purposes. An inside overview of the ATM outlet is more than enough. The angle of the camera view should not show the transaction area. Because sensitive and private information like credit card, PIN code, personal and family information could be retrieved. If the transaction time is delayed or due to malfunctioning the user’s idle time gets longer, clear data could be collected visually through the cameras.

If these footages go to the wrong person intentionally or not, the potential threats and damages for the user are high. Can banks station their ATMs in places like isolated shopping malls, gas stations, the subway or even a remote branch? Knowing the risks and just bluntly establishing ATMs in places like these is unacceptable and very unethical. It is because the level of security in places like these is very average or below par. This is a common mistake in both developing and undeveloped countries. In situations like this there is a huge threat to third party properties like retail stores and public property, because the possibility of crimes is very high due to lesser security standard. As a result lives of security personals and ATM users are at stake. It is not impossible to establish ATMs in these types of areas. You must consider the required infrastructure and necessary steps in terms of security before implementing. Banks should always analyze internal and external security issues from their and customers’ point of view too.

Common practices in ATM security

The level of security is very important in ATMs today. Many banks ensure that their ATMs are up to the minimum standard required. Having the proper infrastructure and technology to meet this standard will prevent many crimes and abuses to great extant. This is very important when it comes to ATMs located outside or away from banks’ premises. So when a bank opens an ATM branch it should mainly focus on the security standard and the financial feasibility to implement this. Some banks might not consider this due to financial barriers. Therefore they might focus on the quantity of the ATM outlets instead of the quality of the ATMs’ security. There must be a professional code of conduct among the banks when stationing their ATMs. They could collaborate and open ATM branches together in a particular location instead of going for individual and separate ones. Thereby they can increase the service and also ensure a quality standard security to each and every one of them.

Threats and attacks

Before understanding strategies related to ATM security, a sound knowledge on the threats and attacks on ATMs is required. Everyday the use of ATMs is on a rise and so does the number of crimes related to it. The crimes are not just technical or computer and network attacks but also physical attacks on ATMs even leading to murders. “the shooting of a Manhatten….”. So it is important understand the types of ATM attacks we are dealing with.

“There are three basic types of ATM attacks:
1. Attempts to steal a customer‘s bank card information;
2. Computer and Network attacks against ATM‘s to gather bank card information;
3. Physical attacks against the ATM.

• Card Skimming
• Fake ATM machines
• Card Trapping/Card Swapping
• Distraction theft or ‘manual’ skimming
• Shoulder Surfing
• Leaving transaction ‘Live’
• Cash trapping

• Network attacks against ATMs
• Viruses and malicious software
• Phishing
• PIN cash-out attacks
• Utilizing a Fake PIN pad overlay
• PIN Interception

• Ram Raid Attacks
• Theft of ATMs
• Smash and Grab of ATMs
• Safe cutting/Safe Breaking
• Explosive Attacks
(http://www.eurojournals.com/ejefas_21_13.pdf) 08/11/2012 [ejefas] ”

Here is an example of an ATM crime statistics;

|EUROPEAN ATM CRIME STATISTICS – SUMMARY | |ATM Related Fraud Attacks |2007 |2008 |2009 |2010 |2011 |% +/- 10/11 | |Total reported Incidents |4,934 |12,278 |13,269 |12,383 |20,244 |+63% | |Total reported losses |€439m |€485m |€312m |€268m |€234m |-13% | | | |ATM Related Physical Attacks |2007 |2008 |2009 |2010 |2011 |% +/- 10/11 | |Total reported Incidents |3,550 |3,043 |2,468 |2,062 |1,818 |-12% | |Total reported losses |€31m |€26m |€28m |€33m |€28m |-15% |

Things like these influence the interference of the law. As a result several national and state governments and organizations implement laws and regulations related to ATM security to ensure the prevention of crimes and safety of the users. These positive steps would reduce the rate of threats and attacks to a great extant. So here are some examples of such laws that are in practice today; “Chicago law…”

It is legally required to mention that the ATM users are monitored by banks’ security cameras during transactions.


This report could have answered to your question at the beginning of how vulnerable ATM security is today. As this is considered the era of information communication and technology the most valuable commodity in the world is information. It could be national, military, scientific, financial or even personal. Information related to our financial matters could be very sensitive. That is why we should be very cautious when doing transactions with the banks electronically or even when using ATMs. In this case security is a major issue as we discussed and analyzed earlier. Threat and attacks are inevitable in circumstances where ATMs have no proper security system. “These are some recommendations by industry experts to improve customer safety while using ATMs:-

• Determining the crime risk in the geographical surroundings
• Locating new ATM’s in highly visible areas
• Providing sufficient lighting at and around the ATM’s
• Educate customers periodically by mailing a notice advising of risks associated with using the ATM and how to avoid these risks • Maintaining shrubbery and other environmental features at a height at which they cannot be used for concealment • Conducting and documenting periodic security surveys at the ATM location, and sharing that information with local law enforcement officials • Providing a direct-line phone to a bank department so that customers can call for assistance around the clock • Educating bank personnel to be responsive and sensitive to customer claims and to communicate such claims immediately to bank security.” (…..)

These steps are some of many other positive ideas to ensure the customer safety and reduce related crimes rate. At the end of the day you must balance customers’ privacy and ATMs’ security to provide satisfying service to the society. The purpose of the report was to analyze the ethical, social and legal issues related with ATM security. The authorities involved should be concerned about the standard of the security and also the ethical issues that may rise due to some controversial ideas in ATM securities these days. The negative impact to the society by the vulnerabilities could be prevented through practicing the laws and regulations that are in place.

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