EDITORIAL: While Security Challenges Grow, So Does High-Tech

Editorial, May 31, 2018

While Security Challenges

Grow, So Does High-Tech

Community Bank’s security camera in Southside Oneonta captures a suspect, left, who looks a lot like images captures after two “skims” in Pennsylvania.

Ten years ago, we might have said, if high-tech can’t solve security problems, its future is limited. Today, high-tech is the King Kong that dominates everyone, and is likely to do so for the foreseeable future.
That doesn’t mean security problems have gone away. If anything, they are more daunting and they are inescapable.

A case in point happened here in Otsego County Saturday, May 19, when a “skimmer” was discovered on an ATM at the Community Bank drive-thru on Southside Oneonta. This device was placed by someone with mischief in mind over that slot on an ATM machine where you slide your credit or debit card.
The “skimmer” will read the information on the magnetic strip on your card, and a little micro-video camera will send it to the person who put the “skimmer” in place, who can then use the data to access your credit information or to make purchases fraudulently.
It turns out, the “skimmer” was placed late on the evening before. The ATM itself diagnosed something was wrong, alerted the repair technician and turned itself off. When the technician arrived the next morning, he quickly figured out what had happened and alerted state police at Troop C, Sidney.
As it happened, the security camera caught an image of the man who placed the “skimmer,” and he looks very much like the man who placed one at another Community Bank branch in Scranton, Pa., in early February, and at a nearby PNC Bank branch in Kingston, nearby Scranton, about the same time.
The photos have been widely circulated, first in the Scranton Times; last week in Hometown Oneonta and The Freeman’s Journal. And no one’s called with an identity yet, so it’s possible that the suspect’s wearing a disguise.
The baseball hat helps. He’s wearing thick-rimmed glasses, and it looks like he may have a false nose.
If you Google “skimmer” devices, you’ll find they look pretty slick. It seems like they actually fit over the ATM slot and unless a customer doesn’t look closely, he or she wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

This kind of thing – and the FBI’s “router alert” issued on Memorial Day advising computer users to restart their machines to side-track Russian trackers – has to concern everyone about the dangers of participating in our brave new technological world?
In reality, high-tech is ubiquitous. There’s no opting out.

A skimmer, foreground, fits right over a real ATM, background.

As it happens, though, Community Bank – and the banking community, generally, no doubt – has been preparing for this and all sorts of other mischief.
One of community’s vice presidents, Hal Wentworth, quickly issued a statement advising customers of something called “Visa’s zero-liability policy” in cases of fraud or unauthorized use of accounts. When this sort of thing happens, it seems, the credit-card company’s customers are protected.
Wentworth asked anyone who suspects a data breach to alert the bank. The investigator, Capt. Scott Heggelke, said no one has come forward, so it looks like customers are in the clear.

Meanwhile, if any other problems occur, or if anyone thinks they recognize our friend with the baseball cap, call state police at 607-432-4844 and perhaps at least this specific situation will be resolved.
Even so, King-Kong will remain.


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