ATMs and Debit Cards

1/11/2014 - Author: Felicia

I've done several podcasts in the past talking about the problems with debit cards versus credit cards. They can be acceptable if used for a specific purpose, and if you are fully aware of how to avoid problems.

I plan on covering this topic in more detail later, but for now just wanted to get a link out to readers that they should read in depth.

ATM skimmers and scams

Krebs has been maintaining a blog series on ATM skimmers and scams associated with ATM machines. The article is a must read regardless of whether you use ATMs or not. One of the items he features is a credit card swiper that skims from gas stations. Krebs also provides several examples of point-of-sale skimmers. So simply staying away from ATMs won't keep you safe from these skimming problems.

Per Krebs, "Most skimming attacks take place over the weekend hours. Skimmer scammers like to place their devices at a time when they know the bank will be closed for an extended period, and when foot traffic to the machine will be at its highest."

ATMs are running insecure operating systems

As of 1/20/2014, the world has been made aware that 95% of all ATM machines are still running Windows XP. Yeah, that's Windows XP for which there are no more security patches after April 2014. It seems to me that the ATM makers should hire some people that know how to create customized Linux distributions. If you could run an operating system that could be fully/remotely upgraded as needed, then that seems to be a better option than Windows. Since the new ATMs are going to be running another flavor of Windows, the banks haven't learned their lesson yet. I also can't imagine why such a heavy operating system is needed to run what should be a simple ATM application.