PINs Not So Personal: Study

Researchers use infrared cameras to see PINs

When you go to the ATM, you probably cover up your PIN in some way, so that no one can take a video of you punching it in.

However, new research suggests that it may take more than a cover-up to protect your PIN.

Researchers from UCSD used an infrared camera to see the pin numbers pushed into the keypad. The keys still had the heat of the user’s fingers a minute after the user left.

When used within a minute after the transactions, researchers were able to identify the numbers 80 percent of the time.

After a minute, they were still able to identify the numbers 50 percent of the time. They had the numbers, but not the order.

The news doesn’t concern many ATM users, though.

“They’d have to have special equipment. Of course they wouldn't get the order of the code, so it’s not that much use to them as long as they don't have the code itself,” said James Cochran, a San Francisco resident.

Others remain worried about the possibility of someone stealing their pin.

“It’s a little scary that you're not secure even at bank. It’s really scary,” Alexia Franco from San Diego said.

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