Feeds

Better ATM skimming through thermal imaging

Technique automates PIN theft

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Security researchers have found that thermal cameras can be combined with computer algorithms to automate the process of stealing payment card data processed by automatic teller machines.

At the Usenix Security Symposium in San Francisco last week, the researchers said the technique has advantages over more common ATM skimming methods that use traditional cameras to capture the PINs people enter during transactions. That's because customers often obscure a camera's view with their bodies, either inadvertently or on purpose. What's more, it can take a considerable amount of time for crooks to view the captured footage and log the code entered during each session.

Thermal imaging can vastly improve the process by recovering the code for some time after each PIN is entered. Their output can also be processed by an algorithm that automates the process of translating it into the secret code.

The findings expand on 2005 research from Michal Zalewski, who is now a member of Google's security team. The Usenix presenters tested the technique laid out by Zalewski on 21 subjects who used 27 randomly selected PINs and found the rate of success varied depending on variables including the types of keypads and the subjects' body temperature.

“In summary, while we document that post-hoc thermal imaging attacks are feasible and automatable, we also find that the window of vulnerability is far more modest than some feared and that there are simple counter-measures (i.e., deploying keypads with high thermal conductivity) that can shrink this vulnerability further still,” the researchers wrote.

A PDF of their paper, which is titled Heat of the Moment: Characterizing the Efficacy of Thermal Camera-Based Attacks, is here. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.