Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


The first salami attack?

A salami attack is when you take a very small amount of money from an awful lot of accounts. The canonical example is a bank programmer depositing sub-cent amounts of interest in a special account. These rounding errors add up.

I’m trying to find the first actual documented theft or attempted theft using this attack.

I’m hoping that a reader will know, when the first reports of salami attacks came out.

Please comment if you have an idea.

Photo: “Salami & cheese – food heaven,” taken by SanFranAnnie with a Cannon SD400, which is not the camera mentioned in Mordaxus’ post yesterday.

[Update, Jan 5, 2008: Steve Lipner provided me with a cite! Thomas Whiteside, Computer Capers, 1978. The copyright page states that most of the material first appeared in the New Yorker.]

7 comments on "The first salami attack?"

  • Anon says:

    Superman III? Office Space? =)

  • Chris says:

    This blog needs a “pork” category.
    So far, we’ve had this, the bacon of the month club, and the business with expensive Spanish ham (and I may be missing a few).

  • albatross says:

    There’s an old attack with valuable-metal-coins, involving shaving a bit of gold off each coin with a knife. I believe this led to changes in how the outside edges of coins were made.
    I think a lot of attacks on voting systems also look this way. Use a pencil lead or whatever to mess slightly with the operation of many different lever machines, so that a few votes don’t get counted from each machine.

  • Chris says:

    Nice one, Albatross. This is doubtless why milled coin edges were invented (

  • shrdlu says:

    Oh, jamón now! Is that the wurst you can do?

  • Arthur says:

    It seems that we have a ham in our midst. Best that we smoke him out before he comes back with more of his corned beef humor.

  • Nik says:

    Good luck; I spent some time a while back hunting for such a documented case without any luck…

Comments are closed.