Blog: Answers to Commonly-Googled ATM Security Questions

November 20, 2018  |  B. SCOTT HARROFF

Your customers have questions about ATM security … do you have the answers?

Here’s how we answer some of the most commonly-Googled questions:

Are ATMs secure?

Wherever there is cash, there will be attempts to steal it. That’s why security is such a big part of our mission at Diebold Nixdorf—and why layered security is baked into every ATM we design.

Did you know ATMs have multiple protections against threats ranging from physical to cyber and data? It starts the moment you insert your card—anti-skimming devices ensure your data can’t be accessed and stolen. Cameras, PIN shields and your PIN itself provide a barrier of security too. But most of the really hard-hitting security defenses are things you can’t see, like firmware updates, XFS updates, terminal software updates, and Windows software patches that thwart the latest cyber-attacks (they’re distributed by the software or OS manufacturers), anti-cash-trapping shutters, encryption software, ink-staining cassettes, alarms, 24/7 monitoring and so much more. And as fast as criminals come up with new attack vectors, our global experts come up with innovative solutions to thwart them.

How do you protect against ATM theft?

We work closely with banks and credit unions around the globe to monitor their ATM networks and prevent attacks through secure hardware, software monitoring tools and service technicians on the ground. Our industry-leading services organization is made up of local experts who are connected to our international knowledge base of known security issues. We’ve also forged close relationships with organizations such as the FBI, US Secret Service and BKA, as well as ASA, ATMIA, EAST, PCI, the EMV Forum and CEN.

Fighting attacks is a full-time, 24/7 job—and it takes a global network of committed individuals working together to ensure criminals don’t get the upper hand.

How can I keep my ATM card safe?

We advise consumers to follow some simple rules:

  • Never write your PIN down—especially not on your debit card.
  • Don’t use ATMs that don’t look secure. If it feels sketchy, wait until you find a different terminal. We work with banks to build an ATM finder into their bank app, to make it easier than ever to find an ATM close by.
  • Don’t throw your receipt away near the ATM.
  • Shield the PIN pad while you enter your PIN to avoid shoulder-surfing.
  • Slow down. While many of our ATMs offer the “card before cash” feature to minimize the chance that people will leave their card behind, customers have been known to leave their cash and/or their cards at the ATM when they’re in a rush.

Can I get money out of an ATM without a card? Follow up question … How can I use my phone safely?

With new advances in hardware and software technology, we’re rolling out more ATMs that feature cardless authentication. Most often, the alternative solution involves using a mobile phone to access an account on the ATM. We recommend that consumers ONLY use cash-access or money-transfer solutions that are offered by their bank, through their trusted banking app, to ensure their money and data remains safe.

Do all ATMs have cameras on them?

Nearly every ATM out there has at least one camera—and in some cases, multiple cameras. We offer wide-angle surveillance cameras across our CS Series ATM family in both USB or analog.

Do ATM machines make mistakes?

Although ATMs occasionally have mechanical device errors and sometimes have issues with accepting currency or checks that are wrinkled, sticky, or torn, ATMs very rarely make ‘mistakes.’ In the event something does go wrong, there are back-end checks and balances at the ATM transaction processors and financial institutions designed to detect and correct problems that may occur.

Do skimmers work on chip cards?

”Skimmers” can work on EMV chip cards depending on the type of card issued and the card reader in which it is inserted. For example, many institutions are still using standard EMV motorized and EMV DIP card readers, and almost all US financial institutions still have a magnetic stripe on the back of the EMV card. So, if a malicious individual places a skimmer on a standard EMV card reader, and a card holder inserts an EMV card that still has the magnetic stripe, the skimmer will be able to read the magnetic stripe. If the PIN is then captured, and the card is cloned, it could be used at an ATM or other redemption point to attempt what is referred to as a fallback transaction.

There are also devices referred to as “shimmers” that malicious individuals install that sit between the card holder’s EMV chip and the ATM read head that can electronically capture the EMV data as it leaves the EMV card for the ATM’s EMV read head. This type of card fraud is best detected on the ATM transaction processing systems or backend core systems.

If I enter my PIN backward will it call the police?

This is an urban legend that—according to—probably got its start with old legislation that actually proposed the idea. We’ve got plenty of real tips to help you stay safe at the ATM, as well as keep your cards, data and money safe this holiday season. Check out these blogs:

Bankers: have you signed up for our security alerts emails yet? Stay on top of new attacks and emerging threat vectors with news and information from our global experts.

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