How To Steal ATM PINs Using Thermal Cameras
“Thermal imaging provides several advantages. Unlike with traditional cameras, visually masking the PIN pad does not defeat the attack, and the ability to automate PIN harvesting using computer software further simplifies the task.
The researchers gathered 21 volunteers and had them test 27 randomly selected PIN numbers using both a plastic PIN pad and a brushed metal PIN pad.
The strength of the participants’ button presses and their body temperature were shown to affect the results to some degree. The researchers discovered that the metal pad made the attack nearly impossible to implement, but with the plastic PIN pad, it was even possible to determine from the heat signatures not only the numbers pressed but also the number order.
With the plastic PIN pad, the custom software the researchers wrote to automate the analysis had approximately an 80% success rate at detecting all digits from a frame 10 seconds after the person entered their PIN. The success rate was still over 60% using a frame 45 seconds after the PIN was entered.”