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How to protect ATMs from physical attacks?

Off-premise deployments are very attractive for financial institutions but the risk of an ATM attack is significantly higher at such locations.

Bank business models are moving towards the use of large numbers of self-service stations and high-end customer service centers, allowing banks to reduce their cash transaction costs. In order to accommodate customers and their demands 24-7, as well as to increase convenience, many institutions have deployed multiple point-of-sale and freestanding ATM kiosks in malls, parking lots and other retail locations. This shift in ATM availability has increased the amount of cash available in high risk locations giving criminals new opportunities for attacks.

Cash Loss figures alone do not take into account the collateral damage to equipment or property. Costs for damaged buildings and equipment, loss of business, lawsuits, bad publicity exceed by far the cash loss.


ATM protection & physical attacks

Types of ATM physical attacks  :

  • Physical in-situ attacks such as cutting (e.g. grinder, blow torch, thermal lance, diamond drill) ...
  • Explosive Gas: the ATM vault is filled with explosive gas, usually through the shutter Blade and ignited, causing the vault to open or distort.
  • Solid Explosives: solid explosives are placed inside, attached to or positioned near the ATM. Solid explosives such as C4 or Dynamite are often used.
  • Rip-Out / Ram-Raids (Hook and Chain) : Ram-raids (smash and grab) attacks are attacks that attempt to remove the actual ATM from its location in order to access its safe . There have been many highly publicised situations where criminals have physically removed an ATM from its location using construction equipment such as trucks, front end loaders,
    backhoes or forklifts. The ATM is then loaded on to a pickup truck that hauls it to an off-site location where criminals can take their time breaking into the ATM. These types of raids, not surprisingly, often take place in at night or in selected retail locations. Even drive- through ATMs that that are anchored into a base of concrete have fallen victim to this type of attack.

ATM physical attacks


Solutions to protect ATM from physical attacks

Today’s Solution: marking money as stolen. Today’s most effective sets of security features for high risk ATM sites include Intelligent Banknote Neutralisation Systems (IBNS).

Robbery is pointless euro note v2

Intelligent Banknote Neutralisation Systems are designed to prevent attacks by removing the anticipated reward of the crime and increasing the risk of being caught, by marking all the cash as stolen with an indelible security ink when an ATM attack is detected. This will not only foil the theft but act as a deterrent against future attacks. Highly stained banknotes cannot be brought back into circulation easily. They can be linked to the crime scene and restricted procedures are in place to exchange them at the financial institution. This makes stealing stained banknotes both uneconomical and impractical.


ATM cash protection in France

IBNS regulation in France

The French Government has implemented a regulation against physical attacks on ATMs since 2013, French financial institutions must equip their ATM estates with IBNS based on a list of criteria :

  • Selected regions (country borders)
  • Size of the city (small cities are more subject to attack)
  • The location of the ATM (off site ATMs are more at risk)

The impact of IBNS in France

Since the implementation of the Regulation in France, ATM physical attacks have dramatically decreased by 80% from 304 to 71 attacks per year (Source : French Gendarmerie).

Attacks france atm 310821

The future ATM cash protection

Intelligent Banknote Neutralization Systems as the preventive solution

Risk cannot be harmonized, it is always evolving and it is hard to predict.

In general, financial institutions have been slow to adopt IBNS as preventive solutions as they have waited until the number of ATM attacks has increased. At one time this technology was perceived as expensive and unreliable. However, modern systems are much more cost effective and can quickly provide a return on investment. They can easily adapt to changes in risks and replenishment processes.

Modern up-to-date systems are designed with the flexibility to protect ATMs against Burglary, Ram Raids, Explosive Attacks and even the cash replenishment by simply adding a different set of sensors . The IBNS systems meet the demands from ATM, Static, Cross Pavement, End-to-End.

The industry associations (made of CIT, ink suppliers, Financial Institutions, Police, Central Banks) such as Vigiebillet in France help to educate the public and especially retailers of the risks associated with accepting and circulating stained banknotes.

IBNS Intelligent Banknote Neutralization Systems

ATM protection is strategic since the amount of cash available in high risk locations gives criminals opportunites for attacks.
Marking money as stolen with high-security ink eliminates the criminal’s desire to commit an attack, and avoid, as a consequence, collateral damages to deal with for the ATM owner.

Amélie Magdziak , Sales Manager Oberthur Cash Protection

Discover now : How to Future Proof your ATM Network from physical Attacks !

ATM Whitepaper