Central Bank of Thailand Shuts Down Half of Bank ATMs Due To Malware Attack

Malware continues to create financial losses all over the world. Criminals are targeting computer users, but also point-of-sale devices and ATms. A new ATM heist in Thailand saw 12 million baht being stolen. As a result, the central bank of Thailand was forced to shut down nearly half of its ATMs. For now, preliminary investigations seem to indicate an Eastern European gang is responsible for these attacks.

Using Bank ATMs In Thailand Becomes More Difficult

It is not the first time bank ATMs are being targeted by malware attacks. The central bank of Thailand uses ATMs from three different providers, but only NCR devices have been infected by this malware. To this day, it remains unclear whether or not all of their devices were affected We do know the bank was forced to shut down nearly half of their ATMs throughout the country.

An initial examination by the bank indicated a total of 960,000 baht was missing from its NCR devices. After looking into the matter more, it turns out 12 million baht – worth US$350,000 – has been stolen over the course of several days. In most cases, ATM theft occurs through stolen credit cards, and it is possible the malware used in this attack allowed criminals to clone cards.

What is rather interesting is how only 21 machines of the 3,300 NCR ATMs were used to steal this funds. All of the devices affected by this undisclosed malware operation a stand-alone basis. Thankfully, no customer balances are affected by this theft, nor are bank balances in jeopardy by any means.

A similar incident occurred in Taiwan just over a month ago. Somehow, criminals managed to empty various ATMs without using a payment card to withdraw money. During those attacks, a total of US$2m was drained. That attack has also been – allegedly – committed by Eastern European criminals, although that has still not been confirmed.

Recovering this funds is of the utmost importance, albeit the central bank of Thailand will demand compensation from NCR. What is rather worrisome is how all withdrawals made saw 40 bills being dispensed every time. The usual limit for every withdrawal from Thai bank ATMs is capped at 20. More information will be provided as this investigation continues.

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