Criminals in Brazil have figured out an innovative new way to rip off ATMs that puts other techniques to shame.
The thieves noticed that an ATM's security camera was connected using a regular USB port, security blogger Brian Krebs reported. They removed the camera, plugged in a keyboard and commanded the machine to spit out more than $41,000.
As Krebs notes, it's not clear whether the thieves used the USB port to install additional software, or if it was simply a case of connecting the keyboard.
Once in control, the thief or thieves rebooted the computer and were able to systematically command the system to dispense bills in each denomination, starting with 100-real notes. (The Brazilian real is worth a little less than 50 American cents.)
Although the thief obtained an amount about three times the average Brazilian yearly income, it seems he never had a chance to take it outside. Brazilian authorities apprehended a man who they believe was getting help over the phone.
"These kinds of attacks make ATM skimmer scams look positively prehistoric by comparison," Krebs noted.
Still, more traditional ATM attacks still make thieves millions of dollars every year.
Krebs suggests that bank customers use ATMs located at bank branches whenever possible instead of private ATMs or ATMs in out-of-the-way places.
Tucked-away ATMs may be easier for criminals to keep compromised for weeks or even months at a time, while machines at bank branches make it much easier for customers to report anything amiss.