SAN DIEGO — Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, say thermal imaging cameras could be used to help criminals purloin ATM PIN numbers.
In a newly released report, the researchers detail how a thermal imaging camera can record traces of heat left on ATM keypads after a person’s fingers have touched them, Techworld reports.
The study shows how numbers can be visually recorded for up to a minute after being keyed. Since more recent key presses appear as warmer, a criminal could potentially determine the exact PIN number. Even without capturing the correct PIN order, knowing the four numbers involved would reduce 10,000 possible PIN combinations to 24.
However, there are limitations of the attack. If an ATM user lightly presses the keypad, the technology cannot pick up enough heat to gather information. Plastic keypads were to determined more susceptible to attacks than metal keypads.