ATMs unsafe: security experts

  • 2008-10-01
  • By Justinas Vainilavicius
VILNIUS - Credit card crime is on the rise due to inadequate ATM security, experts in the industry say. More than 30 percent of ATMs in Lithuania do not have modern security devices installed.
Banks need to spend more than they are now to ensure safety for users of their automated teller machines, security experts said.

"Installing a security system that meets EMV standards is expensive, so banks tend to save money on this issue," a representative of ATM security company BS/2, Martynas Zilionis, said. EMV refers to a card security system that utilizes a computer chip embedded in the card.
Some banks have responded that they are working on upgrading their ATMs.
"Swedbank makes all possible efforts to make sure that their ATMs meet EMV standards. We accept and investigate all the complaints including those about ATM crimes we get from our clients. Also all the machines are insured," said Swedbank spokesperson Orinta Barkauskaite.

Audrone Narkauskiene, cards department director at SEB, Lithuania's largest commercial bank, told The Baltic Times: "Almost all of SEB's ATM have already adopted EMV standards. As far as we are concerned other banks in Lithuania are solving this problem rapidly as well, so we believe that by 2010 all the ATMs in Lithuania will be secure."
Independent research shows that ATM crime is on the rise. Lithuania has not fully adopted the EMV security standards.

"ATM criminals are most active in the countries that have not adopted the EMV security standards," Lachlan Gunn, the coordinator of the non-governmental European ATM Security Team (EAST), said in a press conference held last week. However, Gunn told the news portal Delfi that Lithuania is showing progress in installing ATM security standards.

Until last year ATM crimes were not widespread, but criminals have developed new technology to steal money, though they use more primitive techniques as well.
"Criminals attach a specific device to the ATM, which skims the card's information, such as PIN codes. Or they just steal the whole machine," Zilionis said. He also mentioned that based on the police report, there were 13 cases of ATM-related crimes this year and the most recent was committed last week, when a Swedbank ATM was dragged away in Garliava, near Kaunas. It is not the first time an ATM has been stolen. Police have not been able to solve any cases of ATM theft.

Last year, based on the EAST report, the stolen payment card data, ATM robberies and similar crime resulted in 439 million euros in losses to European financial institutions, 43 percent more than in 2006. There has been no official data released on damages that Lithuanian banks and their clients suffered as a result of theft from ATMs.
The theft of credit card information used in an otherwise legitimate transaction is known as card skimming. A criminal can procure a credit card number by photocopying receipts or using a small electronic device to swipe card numbers. 

There are currently about 1,400 ATMs in Lithuania.