"X-Force Red" sounds like a fast and furious action movie with Dolph Lundgren or Jean-Claude Van Damme. And while in reality it may not be quite as dramatic, it nonetheless embodies the eternal battle between good and evil. X-Force Red is a taskforce of veteran hackers that IBM has put together to make sensitive areas of the Internet more secure. This elite corps is part of IBM X-Force Research, a group of internationally renowned teams specializing in commercial security research. These teams monitor and analyze problems in various quarters and provide security data to underpin the IBM Security portfolio. IBM X-Force uses this as a basis to produce a wide range of thought leadership studies in IT security research so that customers, experts and the general public can understand the latest security risks and combat new, ever more complex threats. IBM is now opening four test labs where experts can systematically test a variety of different systems and devices for security weaknesses. These X-Force Red Labs are also tasked with making ATMs more secure.
This last focal point - announced at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas - has not been chosen at random. Attacks on ATMs are a growing trend - and we're not just talking about criminals blowing them up with explosives like some kind of frustrated movie gangster. Much more important is the vulnerability of these machines to virtual attacks, which result in very real damage and loss. Eight years after the legendary Black Hat presentation by the late hacker Barnaby Jack, who turned the spotlight on jackpotting, the security of ATMs today is still little better than in 2012. Elite hackers in the four X-Force Red Labs - spread across the United States (2x), Europe and Australia - will be specifically examining the security weaknesses of ATMs and passing on their findings to manufacturers in confidence. According to IBM, their demand for ATM security checks has risen by 300 percent in the last twelve months.