November 29th, 2003, 09:16 AM
Cash machines infected with worm
Cash dispensing ATMs belonging to two US financial institutions were shut down when the computer worm Welchia invaded their embedded Windows XP operating systems in August. Diebold, the Ohio-based company that makes the machines, revealed the security breach on Tuesday.
It is the first known case of a worm actually installing itself on individual ATM operating systems, says Peter Lind, a security expert at Spire Security in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Earlier in 2003, the Blaster worm shut down Bank of America ATMs, but only by causing a flood of traffic that clogged the network's bandwidth.
In the Welchia case, the only harm done was that the traffic generated by the worm trying to contact other machines shut down the ATMs. The worm, also known as Nochi, was not particularly malicious. But it is indicative of a worrying trend, says Lind.
"Nowadays it seems that any device that supports any kind of networking is opening the door to access and sometimes that access might be malicious," he told New Scientist.
Leave it up to windows to screw up ATMs