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Asia Minute: Massive ATM Hack at 7-11’s Across Japan

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Stories of computer hacking and security breaches have become common around the world. But a case this month in Japan has taken cyber-crime to a new level. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.



This was a hack attack that integrated time zones, international banks, and more than a thousand ATM machines across Japan.

The total take was about $13 million, but the chilling part is the degree of coordination and sophistication it took to pull this off. In what sounds like a plot from a Hollywood caper movie.

It started with hundreds of counterfeit credit cards drawn on Standard Bank, a South African financial institution.

The ATM’s were all in 7-11 stores around Tokyo and 16 prefectures on Japan’s main island of Honshu and the southern island of Kyushu.

Kyodo News quotes police as saying about 14 hundred ATM’s were hit. Each one for the maximum withdrawal of 100 thousand yen or about nine hundred dollars.

The entire operation took just three hours, and the selection of the hours was all part of the plan to delay detection.

The withdrawals took place from 5 AM to 8 AM Sunday morning in Japan. Which is 10 PM Saturday night until one in the morning in South Africa.

Most ATMs in 7-11’s in Japan are run by Seven Bank, part-owned by Seven and I Holdings, which in turn owns the 7-11 stores in Japan.

Japanese newspapers say the 7-11 ATM’s were targeted because of the vulnerability of their security network.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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