ATM Security and Fraud Prevention: How to Secure Your ATM

There was a time when ATM machines were targeted by criminals only for the cash inside. However, modern ATMs house something else that’s just as valuable as the cash: consumer data.

An ATM doesn’t store any customer information. But, it does collect it and transmit consumer data. This presents a challenge for ATM owners, because they now must secure their machines against multiple types of attacks.

The good news is that ATM machine manufacturers have developed technology to protect against modern ATM attacks and fraud. And, it’s relatively simple to secure your ATM machines, if you know what to do.

Solid ATM security protects you, your ATM customers, and the banks.

Obviously, protecting your equipment and cash is a big deal. But, a secure ATM machine also protects your customer credit or debit card information. And, it helps shield the bank against fraudulent charges and reputation damage, since many consumers will blame their bank for security breaches, rather than the independent ATM owner.

There are a lot of benefits to properly securing your ATMs. So, here’s what you need to know to keep your ATMs safe.

ATM attacks

ATM attacks are separated into two broad categories: physical attacks and logical attacks.

Physical attacks are a simple attempt to smash the ATM machine and break open the cash vault. The term “simple” is accurate here, since most criminals try something like ramming a truck into the ATM or the wall that the ATM machine sits against inside a building.

Logical attacks are more sophisticated and rely on electronic devices to breach the software or hardware of the machine. Logical attacks extract cash by taking control of the machine or causing it to malfunction.

Even though they extract money differently, most logical attacks still require some physical breach of the case to gain access to the circuitry. So, defending against logical attacks is still mostly a matter of physically securing your machine.

Let’s talk about how you do that.

ATM security: How to protect your ATM machines

The best way to keep your ATM machines safe is to use a layered approach. If one security measure fails, a second security measure should be there to back it up.

Here’s how to layer your ATM security.

Security Cameras for Your ATM Machine

ATM location

The first security measure should be the ATM location. Often, just the placement of your ATM is enough to deter an attacker.

Clearly, you need to avoid isolated or poorly lit areas. But, also consider other aspects of your ATM location.

  • Gas stations, convenience stores, and pawn shops are great for getting lots of transactions. But, these locations also experience higher crime rates than many establishments. 

    If you put an ATM in one of these businesses, work with the owner to get your ATM placed inside, away from large windows, and against a wall with limited exposed surface area on the outside. Also, make sure that your ATM is covered by security cameras.

  • Place your ATM machines so that physical access to the case is limited. 

    Logical attacks require a breach through a seam in the case or the cash dispenser. If your ATM is in a corner or alcove that limits access to the sides of your machine, it’s much more difficult to establish the necessary breach for a logical attack.

  • Place your ATM where users can be easily observed. 

    It takes much longer to breach an ATM machine than it does to make a standard transaction. So, it’s best if the business staff can see people using the ATM. That way they can intervene if someone seems to be tinkering with your machine.

  • Scout the area before you install your ATM.

    It’s not that you can’t place an ATM in areas with a higher crime risk. But, you need to know what the area is like, so you can take appropriate security measures. Take some time to check out the surrounding neighborhoods before you get your ATM up and running.

Choosing a location might be the easiest part of securing your ATM. It’s not difficult. You just need to consider all the security risks.

Bolt your ATM down

Bolt ATM in Floor

This one is super obvious. And, bolting your machine down is easy.

However, business owners may have some concerns about you drilling into their floor. Getting permission to bolt your ATM machine down can be much trickier than the process of installing the bolts.

The key is to help the business owner understand that bolting the ATM machine down benefits them, too. They certainly don’t want people committing crimes in their establishment. That’s bad publicity. The establishment could lose business from customers who need to get cash for their purchase while the ATM is being replaced or is out of service.

Also explain that the bolts do very little damage to their floor. Typically, you’ll secure your machine with four half-inch bolts. And, you can hammer the bolts into the floor and cover them with epoxy once the ATM is removed. If the floor is tile, you can replace the tile that you drilled through to completely cover the marks.

Bolting down your ATM is all upside for both you and the business owner. You just need to help the business owner understand that.

ATM Enclosure via TPI TexasHarden your ATM case

Logical attacks require access to the mainboard or other internal electronics. Most criminals will breach the top of the case to access the mainboard, or a seam on the side of the case to access cabling between the mainboard and the dispenser.

So, fill the seams if they’re not reinforced already. Or, place an internal barrier between the case and the critical electrical components. That way, even if they’re able to open a small crack in the case, a secondary barrier will help prevent the criminal from accessing anything vital.

Finally, if you use an ATM vaulting service or have an employee who restocks your machines, limit the number of people who have keys, and change the keys periodically, if you can. 

Digital security

Many logical attacks rely on outdated software. There are plenty of technologies that didn’t exist when some older ATM machines were manufactured. Older software often has no safeguards against modern logical attacks. So, criminals will target machines with software security holes.

The simplest way to digitally secure your ATM machines is to keep the software updated. The upcoming Windows 10 update will force an update of many older ATM machines. But, establish a schedule to keep your software current.

ATM insurance

ATM insurance must be your last resort. Even though it will help you recoup any losses from an ATM theft, losing your ATM machine or the cash inside is not ideal.

However, carrying insurance to protect your investment is smart. It’s difficult to make your ATMs impervious to attacks. Your ATM insurance protects you in the unlikely event that all your other security layers fail.

But, if you take the proper steps to secure your ATM machines, you’ll greatly reduce your risk of an ATM attack or ATM fraud. And, your ATMs will safely rake in money without any issues.

The Ultimate Side Hustle Idea

There are tons of side hustle ideas out there. However, most of them require you to consistently invest time, which is basically just getting a side hustle job. Or, you need to invest a lot of time, effort, energy—and maybe money—up front, which will pay off… Someday.

But, there’s a side hustle that gives you an almost immediate return on a relatively small investment. If you’re thinking, “buying ATM machines,” you’re right.

An ATM machine will almost immediately generate income. And, you can get great deals on used and refurbished ATM machines. So, the barrier to entry in the ATM business is low, and the ceiling is virtually non-existent. You can own as many ATMs as you want.

But, the best part is that it takes very little time to maintain and operate your ATM machines once they’re installed. This means operating ATM machines is a true side hustle that will have very little impact on your full-time job or free time. And, your ATM business could easily replace your full-time income.

Here’s what makes owning ATMs such a great side hustle to make money without giving up your evenings and weekends.

Generate Passive Income

ATM Business Passive Income Family Time

Most side hustle jobs are just that, jobs. They require a lot of time. They might pay an hourly wage. It’s a good way to make some extra money. But, it’s also a good way to end up working even when you’re not at work.

On the other hand, an ATM machine only has two major time investments:

  1. The time it takes to install your ATM.
  2. The time it takes to fill your ATM with cash.

Other than that, your ATM machine sits and makes you money without your help. The time investment in operating an ATM is low enough that you can easily run multiple AT machines without hiring anyone (or giving up your social life).

With enough ATM machines—and not even that many—you could easily add a second full-time income stream without quitting your full-time job.

No New Skills to Learn

If your side hustle is doing work with the skills you already know, that side hustle is essentially additional hours in your primary job. That’s not ideal if you’re trying to maintain peak performance in your current career. And, it’s definitely not ideal if you want to use your side hustle to transition into a new career because you’re dissatisfied with your current job.

Owning ATM machines requires you to learn zero new skills.

Yes, you’ll need to know how to setup and install an ATM. But, that’s not really a new skill. It’s no more complex than setting up and installing a smart TV. You can learn how to setup an ATM in—no exaggeration—a matter of minutes.

Compare that to most skills you’d learn to make money. Most take months or even years to pick up. Then, you spend even more months working entry-level gigs to build the experience and track record you need to create a meaningful income stream.

This means that generating income with ATM machines takes less time and effort than learning a new skill. And, that means that you’ll start making money faster.

Incredibly Simple Business Operation

There’s real estate, affiliate marketing, funnel building, and other businesses that are marketed as amazing side hustles or primary income streams.

However, all of these are deeply involved businesses.

You Can Start an ATM Business Today!

You have to find houses to flip, and fix them up to make them saleable. Or you have to build an audience to get enough traffic for your affiliate offers. And, you can’t make money with a funnel if you don’t have a product to sell.

The reality is that these side hustles aren’t really side hustles at all. They’re full-time jobs.

In contrast, all you have to do in the ATM business is buy an ATM, find a location, and install it. The ATM company handles the backend business operation. All the payments, reporting, processing, and other business operations are off your plate.

All you have to do is make sure your ATM has cash in it, and watch the transaction fees roll in.

Low Upfront Investment

Let’s talk about the cost of an ATM.

An ATM machine costs a rough average of $2,548. Keep in mind, that’s the average price. You can get ATMs for much less. We’re using the average for the sake of comparison.

You’ll also need around $2000 in cash to stock your ATM with $20 bills. The total to setup an ATM and start making transactions is about $4,548.

$4,548 might sound like a hefty investment. But, the cost of the ATM is a one-time expense. You can use the same $2000 for restocking your ATM. It’s cash you need on hand, not a direct expense.

$4,548 is actually quite modest when you compare it to the upfront costs of other side hustles:

It’s much less than the cost of buying a house to flip (and far less risky).

More affordable than all the months of paying rent and living expenses without your side hustle income while you learn something like coding or build your affiliate marketing audience.

Lower long-term cost than the overhead expenses of subscription services like ClickFunnels, which eat into your profits, and actually add up over time to far more than the cost of an ATM.

The only reason the initial cost of an ATM seems high is because you may have to pay it in a lump sum. But, it’s a much more affordable investment than many other side hustle businesses. It comes with no persistent overhead costs. And, buying an ATM costs you almost no time.

No-Risk Income

Last, but not least, is the risk. All side hustles involve some risk. Even if you’re just going to a side hustle school to learn a new skill, there’s a risk that you won’t be able to find work using that skill. Think of all the college graduates who never use their degree. The same rules apply to learning side hustle skills.

Investment side hustles like real estate and investing carry even more risk because there’s no way to guarantee a return on your money. Stocks tank. Houses sit on the market for months or years.

But, an ATM machine reliably generates income (unless you hide it in a dark alley, behind a dumpster or something like that).

It’s true that some locations get more traffic and more transactions than others. But, if you put an ATM where people can see it, they’ll use it. And, you get 100% of the transaction fees.

Cash still accounts for 30% of all transactions, and 55% of transactions under $10. And, $10 transactions are exactly what you want, since most people will get a $20 out of an ATM for a $10 purchase, which means you get more transaction fees without having to refill your ATM as often.

The No Hustle Side HustleEarning Money from Passive Income ATM Business

Side hustles are a great way to earn some extra income. But, most side hustles just turn your spare time into extra cash.

With an ATM machine, you dependably turn cash into more cash. Just get an ATM. Install it. And start generating income. You could do it over a weekend.

No, you won’t get rich quick. But no side hustle is intended to make you rich fast. It’s about creating reliable long-term income. And that’s exactly what owning an ATM does for you.