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CYBER SECURITY: Beware! ATM scammers warm up for World Cup too

By Prince Osuagwu
As countries of the world which qualified for the 2010 Fifa World Cup are gearing up for the mundial, so unfortunately, internet and ATM Fraudsters are also warming up.

While the 32 solid football nations that qualified for the competition are testing their might on the field of play come June, the scammers would harp on the unfortunate spectators, business men and other soccer loving fans who would gathered in South Africa to cheer their nations and perhaps leverage on the competition to stay happy.

The sad result of their ugly game is that a lot of people would be left miserable and many others stranded.
More recently, experts in the field of Cyber security have noted a worrying increase in  credit card dumps on offer in criminal underworld. Dumps are copies of the information stored on the magnetic stripe of the original card usually obtained via the electronic skimming devices fitted to the credit card machine or bank teller.

This new way of obtaining information on one’s credit/ATM cards for fraudulent purposes, now put a lot of Nigerians in danger, considering that the use of credit cards in Nigeria has been on the steady increase over the years.

Notwithstanding that Nigerians and the Nigerian financial system have also been alerted on this increased danger in credit card dumping, and urged to be more alert, the rate at which these scammers device new methods can beat anybody.

According to the senior threat researcher at Symantec, Candid Wüest, dumping and skimming devices often take the form of an additional card reader that is placed over the original and records any data that passes through it.

“Skimming devices can be combined with a doctored keypad that is placed over the real one or a small video camera that records the PIN code entered for each card.

“Newer versions even contain a GSM module that will send the encrypted dumps back to the attacker. Video footage from surveillance cameras has shown that scammers can install the fake keypad and card reader in under five seconds,” he says.

What this means is that once the criminals have the information, they have the card number and can clone the credit card.

Wüest added that “the clones can be almost indistinguishable from authentic cards, often including holograms and embossed gold numbers. If the criminals have recorded the PIN codes, the cards can be used at any ATM to withdraw cash.”

The alarming reality of the  menace is that spotting a skimming device is not easy, because they are highly sophisticated and usually match the look and feel of the credit card or teller machine.

But Symantec warns that users should look out for any attached keypads or strange looking card slots which are often fixed point mounted or create a small overlap that just looks a bit odd and wiggles a bit.
According to Wüest, this type of thievery is not confined to the developed economies, which makes it imperative that travellers should be particularly wary when abroad.

He said,“ In the next few months thousands of football fans will be traveling to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. While the country is a developing economy, it has a highly sophisticated and modern banking infrastructure and credit card fraudsters to match it” .

The point is that credit card skimming can happen virtually anywhere, so while enjoying what South Africa has to offer over and above the World Cup, travelers are advised to pay special attention to what happens to their bank or credit cards, wherever they use them.


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