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posted by martyb on Thursday January 29 2015, @01:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the or-how-to-expedite-large-cash-withdrawals dept.

Nick Summers has an interesting article at Bloomberg about the epidemic of 90 ATM bombings that has hit Britain since 2013. ATM machines are vulnerable because the strongbox inside an ATM has two essential holes: a small slot in front that spits out bills to customers and a big door in back through which employees load reams of cash in large cassettes. "Criminals have learned to see this simple enclosure as a physics problem," writes Summers. "Gas is pumped in, and when it’s detonated, the weakest part—the large hinged door—is forced open. After an ATM blast, thieves force their way into the bank itself, where the now gaping rear of the cash machine is either exposed in the lobby or inside a trivially secured room. Set off with skill, the shock wave leaves the money neatly stacked, sometimes with a whiff of the distinctive acetylene odor of garlic." The rise in gas attacks has created a market opportunity for the companies that construct ATM components. Several manufacturers now make various anti-gas-attack modules: Some absorb shock waves, some detect gas and render it harmless, and some emit sound, fog, or dye to discourage thieves in the act.

As far as anyone knows, there has never been a gas attack on an American ATM. The leading theory points to the country’s primitive ATM cards. Along with Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, and not many other countries, the U.S. doesn’t require its plastic to contain an encryption chip, so stealing cards remains an effective, non-violent way to get at the cash in an ATM. Encryption chip requirements are coming to the U.S. later this year, though. And given the gas raid’s many advantages, it may be only a matter of time until the back of an American ATM comes rocketing off.

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  • (Score: 2) by nitehawk214 on Thursday January 29 2015, @03:47PM

    by nitehawk214 (1304) on Thursday January 29 2015, @03:47PM (#139198)

    I wonder what the failure rate of these things are? I wonder if it is higher than the 90/69000 or .1% of ATMs that were attacked.

    Oh damn, the ATM dispensed burned money again.

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  • (Score: 2) by q.kontinuum on Thursday January 29 2015, @04:17PM

    by q.kontinuum (532) on Thursday January 29 2015, @04:17PM (#139207) Journal

    Unlikely. If the idea is to generate a small electric spark every second, there should be no flammable material near the generator. A failure would therefore not be a sudden flame but only a lack of sparks, which would go unnoticed unless this ATM is actually targeted by a gas attack.

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