ATM hackers on the prowl

1 min read

In the early hours of November 8, 2008, a young man in John Lennon shades and a black fedora slipped his card into an ATM machine in Chicago.The seemingly banal scene played out at 2100 ATMs in 280 other cities around the world from Atlanta to Moscow. 

But these were no ordinary withdrawals.  They were part of what a U.S. attorney now calls “perhaps the most sophisticated and organized computer fraud attack ever conducted."  In November, four Eastern European twentysomething hackers were busted in coordinating the elaborate ATM heist, which netted them $9.4 million in just 12 hours.  After hacking into the Atlanta-based RBS WorldPay, part of the Royal Bank of Scotland, they made bogus debit cards – which were used during the spree.  So-called “cashers” got hired to make the withdrawals in exchange for a 30 to 50 percent cut.  A mastermind nicknamed Hacker 3 coordinated the cashers, who did all their dirty work with just 44 fake cards.

ATM heists are growing.  Recently, three crooks died after stealing an ATM case in a small town in Holland.  The ATM’s anti-theft device exploded, spraying the cash with dye – the thieves died when their car wiped out on the run.  In August, a fake ATM machine got set up at the casino hosting the annual DefCon hackers conference, and skimmed the card info from unsuspecting geeks.  Old ATM machines – complete with card numbers – are being bought and sold on Craigslist for under $1000.   I’ve been following the ATM  heist for months and waiting for the indictments – now that they’ve hit, a portal into a new kind of battle is emerging:  how ATMs get stolen/hacked, and how banks are fighting against them.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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