H.G. Wells said “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe”—and the year 2020 may be here to prove his point. Adjusting to a global pandemic affected every industry world including financial institutions and their ATM security.
According to 60% of the survey respondents, 2020 has seen an increase in ATM attacks, which is somewhat surprising at first glance. Year-over-year data shows that ATM theft always rises; it doesn’t stay the same or go down. So, the survey suggests that stay-at-home orders and building closures may have curtailed crime and led to a net reduction in ATM attacks.
What’s more interesting is that the most common type of attack has gone against previous trends. For the first time, card skimming doesn’t top the list, which is even more telling when you look at the demographics of respondents. Just under half are from North America, which is the region that traditionally records the most incidents of card skimming fraud across the globe.
So, what did top the list of ATM attacks this year? Vandalism. Thirty percent of survey respondents cited this as the most common attack in 2020. Again, the current climate can explain this unexpected result, as the U.S. and many other cities across the world saw increasing civil unrest. The dramatic rise of explosive and pull-out attacks may be tied to this phenomenon. Indeed, Philadelphia explosives were used to rob 50 ATMs and there were many other cities that got hit, too.
The survey showed logical attacks didn’t happen as frequently in 2020, which hopefully means the industry is improving security. But these attacks are still happening, with Belgium recently reporting its first jackpotting attack (where criminals install malicious software and/or hardware on an ATM to force the machine to dispense all its cash on demand).