Thermal imaging may be new threat to PINs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WTEV) — It doesn't take long for a thief to steal your info.

"Within seconds, you can have stuff stolen," Sandeep Reddivari said.

Over the weekend, a new YouTube video went up, explaining the latest tactic. It's called thermal imaging, and in just days the topic has gotten more than 5 million views.

Here's how it works: you type in your personal identification number on a keypad. The heat sensation leaves behind what's known as a thermal signature. Someone comes behind you in the store, snaps an image with the right equipment, and just like that, your account is vulnerable. Even scarier, you may not notice you're getting hacked.

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"It basically looks like an iPhone cover case, so they attach the cover case to the iPhone," Reddivari said.

Reddivari, assistant computing professor at the University of North Florida, said there are several ways to combat a thermal attack. The first is awareness. Know what you're up against. Next, you can trick the technology by placing your palm over all the buttons.

"That's intense. I didn't know about that," Erin Sterchie said.

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Lastly, when all else fails, type in a few extra numbers to throw off the system. Reddivari says whatever you decide to do, something is better than nothing.

"We need to be cautious and make ourselves more preventable from these attacks," he said.

Another tidbit from experts: if you have a common PIN like 1,2,3,4 -- change it right away.


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