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Hackers Break Currency Validator To Pass Any Paper As Valid Euro

Unknown Lamer posted about 8 months ago | from the teeny-tiny-security-hole dept.

Security 162

Trailrunner7 writes "If espionage is the world's second-oldest profession, counterfeiting may be in the running to be third on that list. People have been trying to forge currency for just about as long as currency has been circulating, and anti-counterfeiting methods have tried to keep pace with the state of the art. The anti-counterfeiting technology in use today of course relies on computers and software, and like all software, it has bugs, as researchers at IOActive discovered when they reverse-engineered the firmware in a popular Euro currency verifier and found that they could insert their own firmware and force the machine to verify any piece of paper as a valid Euro note. 'The impact is obvious. An attacker with temporary physical access to the device could install customized firmware and cause the device to accept counterfeit money. Taking into account the types of places where these devices are usually deployed (shops, mall, offices, etc.) this scenario is more than feasible.'"

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162 comments

Firmware update? Unlikely. (4, Funny)

mveloso (325617) | about 8 months ago | (#45282551)

I doubt that you'd be able to hang around a cash register with a serial cable and update some device's firmware without someone noticing. At that point why not just update the cash register's firmware and have it give you money directly?

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (2)

Alsn (911813) | about 8 months ago | (#45282581)

Who says you need to do it in secret? All you would need to do is convince someone to let you do it, either through being in on it, or some other covert means.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (5, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | about 8 months ago | (#45282705)

"Hello, I'm from the maintenance department and I'm here to update your firmware to protect you from the exploit that was recently published on 2013-10-13."

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45282957)

as in the case of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Dale_Harris he worked as a slot tester for the Gaming Control Board and when he came to check the machine he also added his own code with an exploit

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 8 months ago | (#45283821)

And how did that work out for him?

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 8 months ago | (#45283125)

"Hello, I'm from the maintenance department and I'm here to update your firmware to protect you from the exploit that was recently published on 2013-10-13."

A faster way would be to just give him a 'new' tester and take the old one with you.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283167)

Which is a vulnerability of your employees allowing access to some stranger, not the device itself. The attacker could equally have said he was replacing the device as well. You can't expect the thing to be a magic box that solves all security problems. Security is about everyone, not a silver bullet.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283357)

That doesn't change the viability of the exploit. The point that was made, which is still valid, is that it IS feasible to accomplish this. There are so many access points (ie units) with various people around that it's entirely possible.

Likely? That is a different question and is not really all that valid considering the risk involved.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (4, Insightful)

sootman (158191) | about 8 months ago | (#45284075)

> Which is a vulnerability of your employees
> allowing access to some stranger...

I work in an office with over 500 employees. Do you think I know everyone who works in security, telecom, and I.T.?

Re: Firmware update? Unlikely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45284241)

hi I am hear to install the update to take the new notes

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45282609)

Have you been shopping in a department store in the last 10 years? There are plenty of times when a cash register in some department is locked+unattended or closed. I mean sure, LP will probably be on you like flies on a turd as soon as you step into the booth, but there are sometimes windows of opportunity. That's why this is disappointing news.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (2)

TheCarp (96830) | about 8 months ago | (#45283049)

Have you been in a department store in the past 20 years? They have cameras like would give the DHS a year long stiffy, and a large portion of them are trained right on the registers. Hell, when I was last in a security room, and this was the mid 90s, the Security folks could watch the video and pull up the real time transaction log to watch while watching the video.

They tend to get upity about people they don't know about touching cash registers too. Though, maybe you could go unnoticed, they also seldom tell you up front "we keep our security footage for 10 days" so its not like you can be sure that you were not recorded doing it.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (2)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 8 months ago | (#45283817)

They tend to get upity about people they don't know about touching cash registers too. Though, maybe you could go unnoticed, they also seldom tell you up front "we keep our security footage for 10 days" so its not like you can be sure that you were not recorded doing it.

Despite these measures, somebody managed to tamper with POS terminals in dozens of Michaels stores [krebsonsecurity.com] across the US in 2011 (and ALDI markets the year before) and get away with it. In this case they were skimming PINs. The Secret Service investigated, and two guys were caught [databreaches.net] a year later. But the guys convicted were ATM cash withdrawers hired for the job, not the masterminds or the POS tamperers.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (2)

Moryath (553296) | about 8 months ago | (#45282691)

Sneakier to modify the reader, because then the register doesn't give you any clues if it's on stock firmware (and someone running a register diagnostic, checking firmware checksum, maybe even checking the firmware flash increment counter will come up blank too).

The attack here is going to be passing plausible-looking counterfeits to an unknowing person who trusts the reader/register in a "Garbage in, Gospel out" manner that most people approach computers with. Buy something or trick the cashier into making change and voila, "free money" for the counterfeiters.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283395)

That assumes that you know how the reader works and sends it's data to the main processor for verification. Certainly this is a possible way but it may be much easier, due to the architecture of the system, to simply (as the hack proves) to simply modify the firmware which appears to be fairly insecurely written.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 8 months ago | (#45283445)

The euro bill validators I've seen look pretty standalone to me. Presumably not just because having them networked leaves them open to attack, also because it's not really necessary.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (5, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | about 8 months ago | (#45282757)

Unless this attack is a buffer overflow or something when you put in a particularly formatted note, I don't see the issue. "Oh, you can bypass the bill checker if you break the machine open, pull the ROM chips, and put in new ROM chips!"

According to TFA, the guy went and analyzed the firmware to discover how it worked, and then noted that you could bypass the check routines in it to always set the "good" pins high. About the only thing even mildly worrying is that there is apparently no crypto lock on the firmware, but a crypto lock on the firmware would be useless if you have physical access to the machine anyway, only slightly complicating the job of redesigning the internals, so that's not saying much. There's a reason these machines are secured with a lock and a sturdy metal case.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283437)

You need to explain what you mean by "crypto lock". What should be happening is the firmware should be protected by an asymmetric key/certificate that validates against a certificate authority on a regular basis.

Simply encrypting the firmware "on the device" without external validation would not be a strong enough protection unless there was a hardened root certificate/key in a chip such as a TPM.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283633)

Unless this attack is a buffer overflow or something when you put in a particularly formatted note, I don't see the issue. "Oh, you can bypass the bill checker if you break the machine open, pull the ROM chips, and put in new ROM chips!"

Or you when the transactions are rounded off, you could have a subroutine take the left over decimal places and deposit them into an account that you set up. It would only be tiny fractions of a Euro each time - who would notice. What could possibly go wrong?

BTW, where's Milton?

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#45283835)

You just have to plug in a serial cable. No need to break anything open or swap any chips.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45284353)

How do you access the serial port without breaking anything open?

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 8 months ago | (#45282793)

I used to do small subcontract jobs for extra cash. More than once, I was left alone in a bank branch with the vault open after the employees had left for the day. The only one still around was the manager, and he went outside for 10 minutes for a smoke and a phone call. Again, vault was wide open and less than 10 feet away... not to mentioned unfettered access to all of their PCs and other equipment behind the counter. The only ID check was to see that the name on my driver's license matched the guy they were expecting.

If a major international bank has branch security that lax, imagine what your average corner store has.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283541)

Even if you cleaned out the entire branch of cash, then blew it up with C4, it would be less than 1% of the damage a rogue company trader can, and has done.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (3, Funny)

mcrbids (148650) | about 8 months ago | (#45283029)

All you have to do is get a technician costume. You know, a big, black bag with lots of tools in it, perhaps a utility belt, a button-up, short-sleeve shirt with a generic company logo on it. Walk up to the unit with a slightly bored expression, casually pull out your cable, and get to work. Pay no attention to anybody around you.

Chances are, you just might get away with it.

SOURCE: I watched Burn Notice a few times.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (4, Interesting)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | about 8 months ago | (#45283867)

When I was around 12 or so, my dad was in the army and worked on anti-aircraft systems. One Saturday he needed to get or do something at the shop so he drug me along for the ride. Both of us in our plain clothes. We walked up to the shop, 2 guards patrolling, he said hi, pulled out his keys and opened the door. I was in awe of what I saw inside.. 15 M163 Vulcan self-propelled anti-aircraft guns all in a line. We piddled with some things, he started one up and made sure to tell me repeatedly dont stand in front of this.. (the radar).. and after an hour or so we left.

Almost to the car, he said.. "you remember those two guards?" "Yes.." I said "I didnt know them from Adam. You can get away with anything if you look like you know what you are doing."

A lesson I have remembered all my life and used on more than one occasion.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (1)

holmedog (1130941) | about 8 months ago | (#45283095)

I *think* the point would be to make the modification once and abuse it multiple times. Where accessing the register would work great once, getting this in and sending in multiple pawns with the counterfeited bills could net considerably more money over long term.

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#45283639)

Put on a jumpsuit and carry a toolbox. There's a fair chance you will be granted access. By the next week when your partners take advantage of it, nobody will remember what you looked like other than 'he was wearing a jumpsuit and had a toolbox".

Re:Firmware update? Unlikely. (2)

Ant2 (252143) | about 8 months ago | (#45283669)

Once the machine is open, just take the piles of cash sitting there.

Well duh (4, Insightful)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 8 months ago | (#45282567)

If you can physically access and modify a machine, you can change the way it behaves. Is this really news? Can they do it wirelessly? Over the internet?

Re:Well duh (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 8 months ago | (#45282721)

Of course, now that the vulnerability is known, owners of the machines should be regularly verifying that they work correction. They should verify that real notes are not flagged as counterfeits, and they should be able to verify that counterfeits do not get verified as legitimate. However, it might be hard to verify, depending on how the machines work. If you reprogrammed the firmware so that all valid notes are verified, but that only counterfeits with your unique ultraviolet ink pattern are legitimate, then most tests with other counterfeit bills would fail, and the machine would look as though it was working properly. If you had physical access to the machine, and there's enough free space in there, you could probably get it to respond to a bluetooth signal to give the desired response, in which case black box testing with different notes could not verify that the machine was working correctly.

Re:Well duh (1)

leonardluen (211265) | about 8 months ago | (#45283841)

If you reprogrammed the firmware so that all valid notes are verified, but that only counterfeits with your unique ultraviolet ink pattern are legitimate

but that makes it easier to pin you to other counterfeiting instances where they find those bills with your "signature" on them in a dozen different places. if you weren't using fancy counterfeit bills, then they might only be able to pin you to the place they caught you.

you would have a similar issue with the bluetooth dongle when they catch you using it. "hey we found those fancy bluetooth things in 3 other stores i bet this guy is responsible for those too!"

these people often are caught when they get greedy and attempt to repeat it over and over or do it for such a large sum of money that it doesn't go unnoticed.

Re:Well duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45282769)

Some people are unaware that if you change things, things change.

Re:Well duh (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 8 months ago | (#45282867)

f you can physically access and modify a machine, you can change the way it behaves. Is this really news?

This part of the article is what struck me:

After watching some videos from the vendor Inves on the machine's operations and reading through the machine's documentation, Santamarta came to the conclusions that some of the security claims the vendor makes were somewhat specious.

"Unfortunately, some of these claims are not completely true and others are simply false. It is possible to understand how Secureuro works; we can access the firmware and EEPROM without even needing hardware hacking. Also, there is no encryption system protecting the firmware"

So it sounds more like the company said "our stuff is secure, awesome, and hax0r proof", and someone essentially said "challenge accepted".

That he could do the initial reverse engineering without ever even having had the device (he downloaded just the free firmware) tells me that this device was pretty ripe for the picking.

Secure Boot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45282959)

there is the difference between being able to trivially boot a new firmware and non-trivially boot a new firmware

Re:Well duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45282963)

Can they do it wirelessly? Over the internet?

But more importantly, will it blend?

Re:Well duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283189)

The news is that there is absolutely no security to make the manipulation hard. If they used signed or encrypted binaries changing the behaviour of the validator would require visible changes (replacing the chip with the hardcoded decryption key). Right now you can switch a hacked validator with a working validator or just hack a certified working validator and nobody would be able to tell the difference. It is like giving people direct access to the internal state of a voting machine.

Re:Well duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283315)

If you can physically access and modify a machine, you can change the way it behaves. Is this really news? Can they do it wirelessly? Over the internet?

Better. They can do it ELECTRONICALLY!

Run and hide!

Re:Well duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283643)

Not quite sure how your post got an insightful rating since you seem to imply that the device needs no special protections other than from over the wire. That's showing quite a depth of ignorance as to the security that needs to surround these types of high risk devices. If you think it's "reasonable" to think that if you manage to steal an ATM that it should be reasonable to expect that you should then be able to find ways to hack other ATMs "in place" then you are mistaken. If the security of the device is sufficient you should NOT be able to do so.

And don't bring up proxy keypads and other external, non-integral, device hacks. Those don't break the devices security. They act as a user using a users credentials. Those hacks require greater physical security and other methods not necessarily internal to the operation of the system.

Re:Well duh (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 8 months ago | (#45284213)

If you can physically access and modify a machine, you can change the way it behaves. Is this really news? Can they do it wirelessly? Over the internet?

Or in this case, when you're in front of the kiosk. Wirelessly is nice, over the internet is nice, but can I, when I'm about to insert my money, update the firmware from that side of the machine? If not, and I have to break into the kiosk to get at it, well, it's not a very interesting hack anymore.

This is a hack? (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#45282569)

Sure... if I'm allowed to take the machine away and modify it I can just replace the electronics with a 555 timer or something. All it has to do is light up a green LED when a piece of paper goes through it.

Re:This is a hack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283551)

If you can take the machine away and modify it, why worry about any of this? Why not just open it, and grab the cash inside?

Big surprise there (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45282595)

You mean to tell me once you get physical access to something all bets are off? No way!

Re:Big surprise there (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 8 months ago | (#45284111)

There is physical access, and then there is physical access for a long period of time.

This is more impressive because compromising the system only takes a few seconds. Contrast that to a laptop with epoxy on the ports. I have no doubt it could be broken into, but not in a few seconds, and not without obvious physical signs of access.

Just Hogwash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45282597)

If you need to open the machine in order to get access to the validator to re-flash the firmware you can just take whatever you want out of the machine (including any cash already in it).

What benefit is there to convince the machine to accept counterfeit currency just so you can buy something you already had physical access to?

Some sense of history? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45282611)

"If espionage is the world's second-oldest profession, counterfeiting may be in the running to be third on that list.

Money is pretty recent, the oldest stamped coins were about 650 BC, paper money around 1000 CE.

Re:Some sense of history? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45282711)

If espionage is the world's second-oldest profession, then the moon is made of cheese.

Ex falso quodlibet sequitur [wikipedia.org]

Re:Some sense of history? (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 8 months ago | (#45284141)

I define cheese as Lunar regolith. You wouldn't believe the prices NASA charges for a simple gouda.

Re:Some sense of history? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 8 months ago | (#45282823)

There were probably counterfeit goods before then in the sense that they were incredible crap that appeared real until the trade was over with and the counterfeiter long gone.

In other news. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45282627)

Hackers with temporary physical access to bank vaults could steal money.

Second-oldest profession FTFY (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45282659)

Politics is the worlds second oldest profession, noted for it's uncanny likeness to the first.

Re:Second-oldest profession FTFY (3, Insightful)

Chemisor (97276) | about 8 months ago | (#45283791)

You are absolutely right. Here are the top ten similarities between politics and programming:

  • Design is always better than the implementation.
  • Our number generators are random. Really.
  • Polling is a lousy way to gather information.
  • Codes always have bugs and loopholes. When they are found, lawyers are often involved.
  • Old codes never die and never fade away.
  • After failure, always blame the third party.
  • Paying for support is expensive.
  • DRM and vendor lock-in are the best means of increasing sales.
  • Never listen to your your customers when they say they want fewer features. They must be lying.
  • Power corrupts. That's why we have checksums and balancing.

physical access is total access. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45282665)

physical access is total access.

Movie plot (1)

guytoronto (956941) | about 8 months ago | (#45282675)

This sounds like something they could use as the basis for Ocean's 14.

Re:Movie plot (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 8 months ago | (#45282741)

I thought they had passed the twenties by now. You know, like "Ocean's horde.", "Ocean King", "The savage sword of Ocean"...

Re:Movie plot (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 8 months ago | (#45282997)

"The savage sword of Ocean"...

Sounds like a porn title to me. ;-)

Re:Movie plot (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 8 months ago | (#45283103)

You must not watch enough porn.

I was thinking Magic The Gathering card...

Good start (1)

c (8461) | about 8 months ago | (#45282707)

The next step in the attack process I'd like to see is a design for a counterfeit bill that'll trigger a bug in the firmware causing it to pass the bill. No need for pesky access to the machines in advance.

Re:Good start (1)

FrankSchwab (675585) | about 8 months ago | (#45284257)

That has a very narrow window of opportunity - basically, from the time the machine is serviced (cash removed and added) until the next time it's serviced. As soon as the money counting room notices your counterfeit bill, countermeasures will begin to be developed. The machine will be replaced and sent for analysis, firmware will get reflashed, ports will get sealed up.

This is a great hack if your intent is to hire a large number of people to pass counterfeit bills at many machines in the same day, as a one-time hack. You could collect millions and pay out hundreds of thousands. Not a bad approach - but it requires a fairly large organization. Likelihood of long-term success (think not going to a federal PMITA prison (they have those in Europe, don't they?)): low.

green blinking light (1)

tommeke100 (755660) | about 8 months ago | (#45282729)

Sure.
You can also just open the box and let the green light blink when it senses a paper.
Fix: test the machine first with real euros and plain paper.

Scraping the bottom of the barrel much? (2)

ugen (93902) | about 8 months ago | (#45282749)

I've got a better "hack" for them. Buy one of these devices (I am sure they are not hard to obtain). When it arrives, update firmware - or better yet, remove internal IC board, and replace with a battery hard-wired to "green light" (or whatever method they use to flag "good currency"). Then come to the store of your choice, and with a sleight of hand replace the device they already have. Presto! Will take a lot less time than "hacking" one at the store.

Of course, if that's a "hack" - how about just taking a cash register and carrying it off?

Easier to just steal (2)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 8 months ago | (#45282765)

If you have physical access to the validator it would be easier to skim some bills from the machine and remain undetected rather than modify it to accept fake bills that will be noticed as soon as the owner brings them to a bank.

Re:Easier to just steal (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 8 months ago | (#45284187)

If you have physical access to the validator it would be easier to skim some bills from the machine and remain undetected rather than modify it to accept fake bills that will be noticed as soon as the owner brings them to a bank.

Ever hear the phrase, "Her register was short"?

espionage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45282811)

"espionage is the world's second-oldest profession" who says that ?

More sensational junk... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 months ago | (#45282859)

"Taking into account the types of places where these devices are usually deployed (shops, mall, offices, etc.) this scenario is more than feasible."

Yes if they have a lock picking set and gain access to the inside of the device to do the modification first.

Heck stealing all the gold in Fort Knox is easy as they have the gold bars just laying there, all you have to do is get inside!

in the running (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45282925)

How can anything "be in the running" for the third-oldest profession? It either is or it isn't.

Re:in the running (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 8 months ago | (#45283533)

The expression "in the running" is used to describe that there exists some uncertainty about the matter, but not so much as to significantly diminish the likelihood of whatever it is that is being described.

So what and who cares. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283073)

I'm just asking because a.) these things are going to be primarily installed in vending machines. Who is going to go through the trouble of
breaking into something like that and changing the firmware (nevermind the research and the risk) b.) just to get what?? Free
Coffee? It's not like they have ATMs over there that accept cash, I've never seen anything like that in Deutschland and even if
they did .. again so what.. break into the ATM (!) to manipulate the cash verifier so you can deposit what...? A thousand EUR??
This isn't news and who cares.

Let me get this straight :D :D (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 8 months ago | (#45283087)

If I have access to a machine, enough to say, open it up physically, remove the hard drive that runs the computer, and replace it a doctored one I created, then I can make it do what I want?

Oh, you mean I don't have to trade the hard ware, just the software?

And, the ski is BLUE, you say?

I am shocked, SHOCKED to hear these disturbing facts. Someone should do something.

Re:Let me get this straight :D :D (1)

Iceykitsune (1059892) | about 8 months ago | (#45283183)

And, the ski is BLUE, you say?

I could have sworn my skis were red...

Currency Validators? (2)

Necron69 (35644) | about 8 months ago | (#45283163)

Ok, dumb American here. Are 'currency validators' that common in Europe? The only thing that comes to mind here in the US is the 'dollar bill accepters' on vending or change machines. Other than those, I don't think I've ever seen a currency validator on a cash register anywhere. Occasionally, you get a sales clerk who will hold a $20 or $100 up to the light to look for the security strip (in American bills), but that's pretty much it over here.

- Necron69

Re:Currency Validators? (2)

freeze128 (544774) | about 8 months ago | (#45283335)

...And if you read the summary thinking of a bill validator, you come away with a "DUH! No kidding dummy!" feeliing. In order to hack a bill validator, you would need to open the vending machine, remove the bill validator, disassemble the validator, update or replace the rom, then put everything back together again. If you're going to do that, you could just grab the money and a coke after the first step.

Vote Parent Up (1)

Another, completely (812244) | about 8 months ago | (#45283501)

My first thought too. If the thing the machine sells is worth so much (maybe train tickets), then the money in there is probably still worth more than free tickets until the hack is patched.

Re:Currency Validators? (1)

swb (14022) | about 8 months ago | (#45283403)

They sometimes use those pens that are supposed to either leave a mark or not leave a mark if the bill isn't legitimate. I've had that done the few times I've used $100 bills.

Re:Currency Validators? (1)

Minwee (522556) | about 8 months ago | (#45283415)

They're pretty common anywhere that money is worth more than the US dollar.

The simplest ones are little more than an ultraviolet light that you could pass the bill under. Not that much different in principle from holding it up to a light to see the security strip, but significantly more effective.

Re:Currency Validators? (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 8 months ago | (#45283435)

Short answer: Yes, but you'll never notice them.

Long answer: Any large store (supermarket and up) has one of those things at every cashier station. Typically, low-denomination bills are simply accepted without any non-trivial checks. 50€ and up and you may start raising some flags (50€ banknotes are supposedly, by far, the most common counterfeit of all Euro banknotes) - mostly they'll go in the machine and that's it.

The "fun" starts with 100€ banknotes - you don't see those much in your average store. Try to pay with a 200€ and the manager will probably be called to double-check it. Try to pay with one or more 500€ banknotes and you're in for a wait while the manager checks them out.

Since nobody in their right minds tries to pay stuff with 100€+ banknotes in the vast majority of cases, and most cash purchases are in coins and/or 5€, 10€ and 20€ (50€ banknotes are popular with somewhat older people who don't have or prefer not to use cards, but are otherwise only seen when an ATM inexplicably gives you one or two instead of smaller denominations), the typical cash experience does not involve getting your cash "validated".

Re:Currency Validators? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283645)

So, the hack mentioned is even more ridiculous that I even first screamed about? The validators they are talking about aren't consumer facing? No one is forcing a cashier to use them, or a business to use them? The only people that have that access are the cashier/owner, so if they hacked their reader, they'd only be hurting themselves?

Re:Currency Validators? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283491)

As recently as a couple of months ago, here in the UK, I'd have said no, but both of the supermarkets that I shop at regularly have had them installed recently. They also have the advantage that they keep the bill after validating it, so the cashier only has access to the float in the till.

Re:Currency Validators? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283609)

Not in the UK (to my knowledge as a store manager). The only devices used by a cashier are either reactive pens (the ink of which only shows up on forgeries) or UV light sources. There may well be some equivalent kind of currency validator used in vending machines that accept notes, but those are relatively new introductions over here (past 10 years or so).

Prostitution is the second oldest profession. (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 8 months ago | (#45283181)

We had to farm before we had civilization.

We had to have civilization before we could have money, and charge to fuck.

Re:Prostitution is the second oldest profession. (1)

Laxori666 (748529) | about 8 months ago | (#45283303)

You are thinking too narrowly. Who says it has to be for currency? "I will fuck you if you give me food." Better if you imagine it conveyed with body language and grunts vs. english.

Re:Prostitution is the second oldest profession. (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 8 months ago | (#45283485)

In that context, food is the currency.

Re:Prostitution is the second oldest profession. (1)

danlip (737336) | about 8 months ago | (#45283711)

We have observed chimps exchanging food for sex. No civilization, farming, or even language necessary for prostitution.

Re:Prostitution is the second oldest profession. (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 8 months ago | (#45283905)

We have observed chimps exchanging food for sex. No civilization, farming, or even language necessary for prostitution.

We still exchange food for sex, isn't that what date night is?

Re:Prostitution is the second oldest profession. (1)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#45283955)

"I will fuck you if you give me engagement ring."

FTFY.

Re:Prostitution is the second oldest profession. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45284133)

Grunting is part of the transaction. It's like an old-time cash register going "ka-ching".

Fluid transfer and children are the receipt. Sorry, no returns.

Thank you, please come again! (There are so many jokes to be made...)

Re:Prostitution is the second oldest profession. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45284429)

I saw a nature show that demonstrated this exact scenario in some type of ape.

I think that pretty well puts it in 'oldest profession' territory.

Re:Prostitution is the second oldest profession. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283349)

Hunting and gathering is the oldest activity. Prostitution (giving sex in exchange for something someone else hunted or gathered) is the oldest profession.

Sure Obama has some accomplishments, but... (1)

nucrash (549705) | about 8 months ago | (#45283251)

He put some of the people responsible for the 2008 banking crisis in charge of the places were they can continue to loot the economy. He managed to put a troll in charge of Homeland Security He managed to put the company that paid 0 in taxes and took more tax credits in charge of economic development. I am certain that if he weren't chasing down the heads of terrorist groups with drones, he would probably put them in charge of the CIA. Do we have anyone charged with being a peeping tom to put in charge of the NSA, because the current guys just aren't creepy enough. I vote KY_Anonymous for being the head of the Cybercrimes division. While we are at it, let's get Bernie Madoff and get him somewhere important for heading up the SEC.

So.. what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283281)

So... if people with the right cmoputer skills are given time and access to a computer that decides stuff, they can change how it decides stuff?

No shit?

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283439)

Criminal 1: "Woohooo! The dumbasses left the machine all alone without cameras and they even left it unlocked!"
Criminal 2: "Sweet! Let me just bust out this laptop and serial cable and download some firmware updates and then we can come back tomorrow and trick it to give us free stuff!"
Criminal 1: "WHAT WAS THAT??? I can't hear you over the noise of the truck I'm backing up. Help me unload the thing so we can drive away!"

I mean, seriously, as a criminal, why would you spend your time hacking the firmware on the thing if you already have it open? Take the shit out of it (money that people have already put in it, even!) and take all the product too, then GTFO.

I guess it was fun for the hackers, but this is not really an exploit even worth the effort to patch.

Does it count at counterfeiting? (1)

linear a (584575) | about 8 months ago | (#45283441)

Does it count as counterfeiting if I reprogram the machine to take any paper as cash and then feed it blank paper?

Counterfeiting ? (3, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | about 8 months ago | (#45283467)

If it accepts _any_ piece of paper, I don't see how that is counterfeiting - theft and fraud, sure, but if I make no effort to copy something, how is that still counterfeiting?

Astronomy / astrology (2)

mbone (558574) | about 8 months ago | (#45283509)

If you go by buildings, you could make a good case for astronomy / astrology being the oldest profession. Stonehenge, the pyramids, etc., they all either were observatories, or needed a fair amount of astronomical knowledge to build.

Re:Astronomy / astrology (1)

danlip (737336) | about 8 months ago | (#45283861)

Astronomy came after farming. Farming came after hunting and gathering. But prostitution may have occurred any of them. Chimps exchange sex for food. But what do you consider a profession? If you do one thing as your primary source of wealth and barter for other things you need that is a profession. Early farmers more or less took care of all their own needs, but bartered some with the blacksmith, miller, cobbler, etc. Unless you are talking about extremely early farmers. Priests may have been one of the earliest professions (and not that different from prostitutes, they take money to make you feel good about yourself).

get what you pay for (1)

kirkb (158552) | about 8 months ago | (#45283575)

I worked in the vending industry for a very long time, and have worked with all sorts of bill and coin acceptors.

If the stakes are low (parking meters, etc), then a cheapass validator from some random Spanish company (like this one) is probably fine.
If the stakes are high, get a Swiss-designed Sodeco BNA validator with impeccable security, reliability, and accuracy. Unfortunately, it'll cost a small fortune.

"The impact is obvious"??? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 8 months ago | (#45283597)

I would think the very fact that you can potentially compromise a machine once you have sufficient physical access to the system that you are able to replace its internals with whatever you want should be pretty damn obvious to almost anybody all on its own

Since they serialize currency... (1)

swb (14022) | about 8 months ago | (#45283721)

...couldn't they come up with some way to put a unique cryptographic fingerprint on the currency that would enable it to be verified as legitimate?

Re:Since they serialize currency... (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 8 months ago | (#45283941)

That would require a server system that is up 24/7 to verify that the key was correct. and every validation device would need a connection to that service.

Re:Since they serialize currency... (1)

swb (14022) | about 8 months ago | (#45284237)

Two words: credit cards.

While it's true that once in a blue moon someone will take your credit card manually (I am old enough to still remember when they were called "charge plates" and were used with carbon paper), almost always someone uses a machine with dialup or connected to the internet to validate a credit card transaction.

Nor is it necessary to validate every bit of cash you take in -- once in a while someone will take a magic pen to a $100 bill, but most of the time at least in Minnesota nobody bothers to validate cash, so it would probably be something that only banks and people who cared to have a box would have.

But it sounds a lot simpler in practice to at least *provide* a method for cryptographic verification, even if nobody uses the system, than it is to spend increasingly large amounts of money trying to just print paper in a way that nobody else can easily duplicate.

people still use cash? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45283907)

i just use my Mastercard debit card at stores.

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