Hot Fingers: ATM Hackers Could Steal your PIN Using an Infra-Red Camera

Researchers from the University of California in San Diego were able to “read” PIN combinations on an automated teller machine (ATM) from the residual finger-generated heat left on the buttons using an infra-red camera.

A clever trick, but for the time being we probably don’t need to worry about it. Surely using that kind of bulky camera equipment around an ATM would arouse suspicion. And the camera that a would-be bank hacker would need to do the job properly comes with a wallet-busting $18,000 price tag. Long story short, it would probably be pretty easy to track the big-spending culprit down. One more shortcoming, the technique doesn’t work on ATMs with metal buttons, as they have too much stray heat.

Still, electronics do have a way of getting smaller and cheaper, so one day we may all find ourselves hitting every button just to be safe once we are finished our transactions.

Can you guess the code from the picture?

Photo Credit: UCSD


No Responses to “Hot Fingers: ATM Hackers Could Steal your PIN Using an Infra-Red Camera”

September 07, 2011 at 8:08 pm, Yevgen Reztsov said:

While the duplicated research might be authentic, the origins of this article considering it’s date and lack of references are questionable. News sources have had a more detailed analysis on the matter published anywhere from several weeks to several months ago in a very similar format, one of the more comprehensive being:

securitynewsdaily (dot) com/thermal-cameras-use-heat-to-steal-atm-pins-1068/


September 08, 2011 at 7:28 pm, Mark Feffer said:

Hi Yevgen – You should check the article’s citation: The MIT Tech Review item it cites was published last week.


September 08, 2011 at 5:01 pm, Austin said:

Keyed in this order 4178
Or if some keys were pressed twice in that case:
1killu = 154558


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