Learn from the Expert: Skimmer Explains Leveled Up Mobile Theft

Bob Styran, IT audit expert
December 14, 2010 /

A security researcher has made a deal for an exclusive hacker forum with a mobile theft expert to find out the latest device created by ‘skimmers’ to hack personal information of ATM users with a fraud taken to a higher level.

Brian Krebs, who has made similar study on ‘skimming’ before, a kind of mobile theft in which fraudsters put up a magnetic device on Automated Teller Machines to steal highly confidential information from ATM cards, shared in his security blog site a series of videos detailing how skimmers have modified tactics that now make use of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM).

With the GSM-based mobile theft that evolved from a wireless-based device, skimmers can now gain access to card data inserted into cash machines and duplicate it for fraudulent uses, which could happen in a matter of minutes and in real-time, Krebs said.

“Let say we have a situation in which the equipment is established, works — for example from 9:00 a.m., and after 6 hours of work, usually it has about 25-35 tracks already on hand (on the average machine). And at cashout if the hacked ATM is in Europe, that’s approximately 20-25k Euros,” explained the skimmer as cited in Krebs’s blog.

The skimmer added that the GSM-enabled device makes the mobile theft easier and faster that even when the police would arrive at the crime scene to remove it, the card data has already been transferred to the skimmer together with the potential 20,000 Euros (if you are in Europe) cashed from the ATM.

The cops may secretly monitor the crime scene to wait for the skimmer to remove the device, but losing the equipment is the least of a skimmer’s concern since he could still receive the tracked data, Krebs noted.

The skimmer said that in an average, this mobile theft tactic could enable a fraudster to track a total of 120 pins in a day.


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