ATM PINs vulnerable to cracking, Israeli researchers say

Everyone relies on their ATM cards pretty frequently -- after all, there's no better (or, often, more necessary) way to start your evening than with a $40 quickdraw from your favorite local money machine. Well, you may want to think twice (that is, if you're among the paranoid security-minded types) next time you whip out that thin piece of plastic. A group of researchers at Algorithmic Research (ARX), an Israeli security firm, published a paper two weeks ago describing a veryseriousflaw inherent in most ATMs. Apparently, between the time that you input your PIN and the time that the machine spits out your cash, a dataset containing your PIN and account number is encrypted and decrypted a few times while being routed along the banking network -- and somewhere along that point, it's conceivable that those numbers could be intercepted. MSNBC reports that while no attacks using this method have been detected, the US Secret Service is already on the case, and that while Visa and the American Bankers Association are acknowledging the problem, both are dismissing the hacking scenario as being unlikely. Still, we might consider busting out that money belt sometime soon, getting the USSS on the job means it could be big. [Warning: PDF link]