Thieves Are Now Using Thermal Cameras To Access Pin Codes

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Thieves Are Now Using Thermal Cameras To Access Pin Codes

Thieves are now using thermal cameras to find out the pin code to access stolen smartphones.

After you tap in the digits, the thieves are able to take a picture of the heat marks from where your fingers have just tapped the screen.

They can even work out the order that you typed in your code because heat spots gets fainter over time.

Android users are at the highest risk, according to scientists, especially those who use a finger-drawn pattern to unlock their phone.


Scientists from the University of Stuttgart developed a process for discovering pin codes.

The process is demonstrated in the following video...


Over the course of their research the scientists found that they could guess a user's pin 90 per cent of the time - if the thermal image was taken within 15 seconds of a pin being tapped in.

For Android users who use finger-drawn patterns, the scientists could guess the right shape 100 per cent of the time.

"Even if a thermal image was snapped 30 seconds after a user drew it onto their phone screen.

"The increasing amount of sensitive data available on personal mobile devices, such as personal photos, call logs, bank accounts, and emails underlines the need to secure them against various kinds of malicious attacks," scientists said in a research paper.


"The usable security community lately focused on investigating different user-centred attacks, such as shoulder surfing and smudge attacks.

"At the same time, a new threat emerged which received only little attention so far from the research community, that is, thermal attacks on touch screens of mobile devices.


"The past years have witnessed portable thermal cameras becoming available on the mass market, in personal mobile devices such as CAT S601, or as attachable accessories for mobile devices."

The good news is that Android users can significantly reduce their chances of getting scammed by introducing an overlap to their finger-drawn pattern.


They can also swerve the fraud by pressing their full hand down onto their touch screen after they have inputted their pin.

This will make it harder for thieves to work out in what order the pattern was drawn.

Cash Machine Pin Fraud

Credit: PA Images

This isn't the only way thieves are defrauding the public.

Barclays bank as previously released a video warning cash machine users of a new scam that's sweeping the country.

The scam is based on distraction, giving fraudsters enough time to do their crime, and leave you completely unaware.

Credit: Barclays

The video shows two people working together. One person acts as 'The Distractor', while the other is 'The Card Swapper'.

'The Distractor' keeps an eye on someone who is withdrawing cash from an ATM, being sure to clock their pin code.

Once the victim has selected the service they need to use, 'The Distractor' drops money, or performs some kind of distraction, just before the card is ejected from the machine.

Credit: Barclays

As the victim turns around to help, 'The Card Swapper' removes their card and replaces it with a fake.

When the victim turns back around, his money is there, as is what they think is their card.

'The Distractor' then tells 'The Card Swapper' the pin code.

Credit: Barclays

According to Financial Fraud Action UK, fraud scams at cash machines rose by a fifth to £32.7million in the last year alone.

Featured Image Credit: PA Images

James Dawson

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