Belgium Suffers First Jackpotting Attack

Antwerp-based savings bank Argenta has fallen victim to what is believed to be Belgium’s first jackpotting attacks. 

Also known as a logical attack, jackpotting is a sophisticated crime in which cyber-criminals install malicious software and/or hardware on an ATM that forces the machine to spew out all of its cash on demand. 

The attack earned its name from the way in which it causes an ATM to mimic the action of a one-armed bandit slot machine when a player strikes it lucky. 

To carry out the attack, the malicious actor must gain control of the ATM by either making a physical connection by USB or hacking into it online using specialized malware. 

Argenta closed down 143 cash machines over the weekend after being hit by two jackpotting attacks. Cyber-criminals targeted West Flanders, attacking machines in Roeslare on Friday and in Ingelmunster on Saturday. 

The attacks follow in the wake of last month’s attempt by cyber-thieves to gain control over ATMs in Ranst and Borsbeek. 

In both instances, the thieves targeted some of the most antiquated machines in the bank’s network. The ATMs, which were manufactured by Diebold, had been scheduled to be replaced when they were attacked. 

The bank has not confirmed how much money was stolen in the first wave of attacks or even whether the attackers were successful in their attempts to force the ATMs to surrender their cash.  

An investigation into the Argenta attacks has been launched by Belgium’s federal police, who are working under the assumption that the same criminal gang masterminded the June and July attacks. 

“We note that despite the upgrades that have been carried out, this type of device remains in the cross-hairs of criminals,” said Argenta’s Christine Vermylen. “That is why we have decided to shut down 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.”

Jackpotting has been around in Europe and Asia for several years and made its way to the US in 2018. According to The Brussels Times, the cybersecurity industry believes the attacks on Argenta to be the first cases of jackpotting in Belgium. 

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