Foreigners exploit Vietnam’s low bank card security to steal from ATMs

By Dam Huy, Thanh Nien News

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Most ATMs in Vietnam use simple technology that criminals can easily make a fake card to fit in, experts said. Photo: Dao Ngoc Thach Most ATMs in Vietnam use simple technology that criminals can easily make a fake card to fit in, experts said. Photo: Dao Ngoc Thach

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There have been many reported instances of criminals stealing from banks using fake cards and security experts warn this will continue since the country’s card technologies are not sophisticated.
Police in Khanh Hoa Province in central Vietnam last month arrested three Russians for allegedly using stolen card data to withdraw money from ATMs using hundreds of fake cards.
Investigators found the three had stolen more than VND133 million in the province before stealing VND38 million in Ho Chi Minh City.
Many foreigners have been arrested in Vietnam in at least eight similar cases this year.
Ho Chi Minh City in January jailed an Azerbaijani and in March a Ukrainian for using fake cards to steal from ATMs. Several foreigners were also imprisoned last year.
Ngo Tuan Anh, vice chairman in charge of Internet security at the Hanoi-based cyber security firm BKAV, said the technologies used in ATMs in Vietnam “are not so complicated.”
“Criminals can easily buy some devices in the market and make a fake bank card that works.”
He said to fake credit cards and use them at ATMs, criminals need to copy card data by installing a skimmer device outside the card slot at ATM booths.
They need to install a camera as well to know the pin code.
The devices are not hard to find, he said.
Dao Minh Tuan, chairman of the Vietnam Bank Card Association, also said criminals have been exploiting the low card-related security in Vietnam.
Only around 4 percent of 84 million credit cards issued in Vietnam use the global standard EMV technology, which ensures higher security and lower risk of data breaches.
The rest still use magnetic strips, which cost only a third or fourth of this technology, he said, adding Vietnam plans to switch completely to EMV by 2020.
Experts familiar with the matter said bank card information in Vietnam is also vulnerable because users are not careful, sharing information on social networks, using simple passwords or sticking to one password.
Anh said data could also be stolen by computer viruses.

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