Hacker serving 5-year sentence invents ATM add-on to prevent theft

MB Telecom president and co-inventor of "Secure Revolving System-SRS" Tudor shows protection system on a prototype ATM in Bucharestby Jon Brodkin

A criminal serving a five-year sentence “for supplying gadgets to an organized crime gang used to conceal ATM skimmers” has invented a device that prevents ATMs from being susceptible to such thefts, Reuters reported today.

Valentin Boanta, who is six months into his sentence in a Romanian prison, developed what he calls the SRS (Secure Revolving System) which changes the way ATM machines read bank cards to prevent the operation of skimming devices that criminals hide inside ATMs.

Boanta’s arrest in 2009 spurred him to develop the anti-theft device to make amends. “When I got caught I became happy. This liberation opened the way to working for the good side,” Boanta told Reuters. “Crime was like a drug for me. After I was caught, I was happy I escaped from this adrenaline addiction. So that the other part, in which I started to develop security solutions, started to emerge.”

Boanta began working on SRS during his trial. SRS, Boanta says, can be installed into any ATM. It rotates the customer’s bank card to prevent the operation of skimming devices as they are currently designed.

SRS development was funded by a company called MB Telecom and the product is being shopped around by Gnosis Kernel, which says:

The main characteristic of the SRS device is highlighted by the insertion of the credit card on its width (not on its length like in present cases), with the magnetic tape facing down. Considering this innovation, the magnetic tape cannot be copied under any circumstance by skimming devices, devices which need to read the magnetic tape on its length in a sequential manner. SRS assumes the credit card and its mechanical and electronic devices rotate it, inserting it into the ATM (or any other device that uses plastic credit cards). After the transaction is completed the released credit card is again assumed by the SRS and with the same rotary motion, but in an opposite direction, it is returned back to the user in the same position as it was initially inserted (on its width and with the magnetic tape facing down). Using this manner of inserting the credit card, on its side, the translation motion of reading the tape is no longer possible, making it useless to install skimming devices on ATMs.

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