Argenta shuts down 143 cash machines after new cyber-attack

Argenta shuts down 143 cash machines after new cyber-attack
© Belga

The Antwerp-based savings bank Argenta has shut down 143 cash machines after suffering two new cyber-attacks at the weekend.

The bank suffered its first cyber-attack at the end of June, when thieves attempted to take over control of cash machines in Ranst and Borsbeek, both in Antwerp province, using a technique known as ‘jackpotting’.

Basically, the criminals attempt to gain control over the machine either online or by making a physical connection by USB. Once control has been established, it becomes possible to order the machine to give out banknotes until there are none left, rather like a one-armed bandit spitting out coins.

Argenta would not say whether the first attacks were successful or if so, to what extent. The two machines, together with others on the network of the same type, were closed down for investigation, and reopened later.

Now two new attacks have taken place, on Friday in Roeselare and on Saturday in Ingelmunster, this time both in West Flanders.

Again, the thieves attacked machines manufactured by Diebold, of the oldest vintage on the bank’s network – machines that were due to be replaced in the near future even before the attacks.

We note that despite the upgrades that have been carried out, this type of device remains in the cross-hairs of criminals,” said Christine Vermylen of Argenta. “That is why we have decided to shut down the 143 devices of this type now, pending the installation of new devices later this year. We are looking into whether that operation can be speeded up.”

The investigation is now in the hands of the federal police, who are working on the assumption that the same gang was responsible for both sets of attacks.

Once again, Argenta will not reveal if any money was stolen. It is standard practice for banks and other institutions to keep quiet about the extent of such crimes, or even their existence, so as not to damage public confidence in the security of their institution.

Jackpotting is already well-known in Germany, with cases in the US and in Asia. As far as anyone outside the industry knows, however, it is a new phenomenon in Belgium.

Alan Hope

The Brussels Times

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