Thieves Found a New Way to Steal Your Card Data via ATM, Called Periscope

Interesting Engineering

A new warning recently came from the U.S. Secret Service about a new credit card fraud technique called Periscope Skimming. According to a non-public alert that was sent to bank industry sources, the Periscope skimming devices connect directly to the internal circuit board of the ATM and copy credit card data.

Thieves are smart guys, they know how to use new technologies and they are even creating their own techniques day by day. They are in a hi-tech war with secret services, all around the world.


The new hi-tech skimming devices have been discovered in Greenwich Connecticut and Pennsylvania. They might have the capacity to steal 32,000 card numbers and data. The devices were set up inside of the ATMs via the ‘top-hat’ entry with a key. They were installed as two parts connected to each other by wires, through the pre-existing hole that on the frame of the card reader. The secret service declared that the only visible part of the system is the top-hat, which is the closest part of the device on the surface.

periscope-5[Image Source: KrebsOnSecurity]

The crooks are not using hidden cameras or other old-school methods to capture the PIN codes. Instead of that, they are mostly focusing on the inner devices in this periscope. People should always be careful while entering the password to refuse any possibilities that would scan the PIN codes.

periscope-skimmer2[Image Source: KrebsOnSecurity]

The Secret Service claims that the thieves don’t need to access the ATM systems. They are mostly targeting stand-alone cash ATMs that are installed in the walls of the banks. Otherwise, they are not exposed from the top. As long as ATM producers continue to build machines based on magnetic strip systems, the crooks will keep finding a way to access them. The U.S. Secret Service is warning people to not forget the transcript reports after. Even if they look basic and safe-ish, they still including personal data of your account and card.

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periscope-scimmer[Image Source: KrebsOnSecurity]

The Secret Service also published important information on their website about how could you protect yourself against credit card fraud:

It is critical that you notify your bank or credit card company immediately if you lose your card. It may prevent someone else from using it illegally. Remember to get your card back after purchasing goods or services. Do not leave the card in hotel rooms or unnecessarily exposed for long periods of time. The number can be copied even if the card is not taken.

Retain all carbon copies of your receipts when making a purchase and retain receipts from ATM withdrawals. If you don't get a billing statement on time, notify the credit card issuer immediately. Check billing statements carefully upon receipt to make sure all charges are yours. Errors or changes that don't belong should be reported as soon as possible.

Do not put your credit card account number on checks used to pay your monthly bills. The credit card agency can always trace your check through your name/address information on the check.

Retain copies of receipts to check against billing statement. Be careful when disposing of materials and correspondence relating to your finances. Shred all receipt carbon copies to make sure your credit card number is unrecognizable. Do not throw away canceled checks, financial statements or letters offering pre-approved credit cards where others can easily find them.

Promptly destroy all old cards or cards you no longer use. Dispose of them in a manner ensuring the card number is unrecognizable.

Secure your mailbox. Obtain a lock, if necessary. If you receive mail through an apartment house cluster box arrangement, make sure the locks for the panel and your box lock correctly.

When applying for a credit card, check the return address. If there is a sticker with a return address placed on the application, contact the card issuing company to verify the correct address.

Do not give your card number to anyone calling on the telephone offering you prizes or gifts. Do not write your card number on a postcard notifying you that you have won a prize or gift and requesting the number as part of the award arrangements. Do not leave gasoline credit card receipts at the pump. They may contain your credit card number. Do not provide your credit card number to unsolicited email messages or on suspicious Internet websites.

SEE ALSO: ATM Skimmer Caught in Real-Time by Security Researcher

Via: KrebsOnSecurity

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