Gas Pump Skimmers
How a Gas Pump Skimmer Works
Front of a US Fuel Pump complete with extremely difficult to source security seal
Essentially, the perpetrator opens a pump using one of a few master keys, unplugs the credit card reader from the main pump controller, plugs the card reader into the skimmer and plugs the skimmer back into the pump controller. This reportedly takes less than 30 seconds.
A skimmer is basically a man in the middle attack. The skimmer listens for all the serial traffic from the credit card reader (clear text at 9600bps) records it to an external piece of memory (flash in this case) and then passes that same serial traffic onto the pump controller. When you use one of these modified pumps the pump controller charges your card and you’re none the wiser, but your credit card details are stored in memory.
Hours or days later, the perpetrator returns to the gas station and connects over Bluetooth to the compromised pump. Once connected the skimmer sends the contents of the EEPROM (all the recent credit card numbers) over the air to the perpetrators cell phone or laptop where it’s logged.