Sunday, September 4, 2011

How hackers steal your ATM PIN

WASHINGTON: Beware! Modern-day hackers can recognize your PIN numbers from ATM keypads using a digital infrared camera.

At the USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies earlier this month, researchers from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) have described how a digital infrared camera could be used to reveal digits of PIN numbers after a user punched them in on ATM keypads.

Researchers showed that the residual heat our fingertips left behind on the ATM keypad can be detected by the digital infrared cameras, easily revealing the digits of your PIN.

When the camera was used immediately after the transaction, researchers correctly identified the numbers with over 80 per cent accuracy.

Even after a minute, researchers were able to correctly identify digits about 50 percent of the time.

Plastic and rubber keypads were most prone to retaining fingertip heat. Even so, they still had their flaws.

"With plastic keypads, we can reliably detect which buttons were pressed, but it is really difficult to determine the order," Discovery News quoted Keaton Mowery, a doctoral student in computer science at UCSD, as telling Technology Review.