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Smartwatch can reveal your ATM PIN

Team conducted 5,000 key-entry tests on three security systems over 11 months

Policy Pulse
Publish Date: Jul 8 2016 1:23PM | Updated Date: Jul 8 2016 1:23PM

Smartwatch can reveal your ATM PIN

 Those involved in cyber crimes can use devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers to take sensitive information like your ATM PIN or passwords for electronic door locks, warns a new research.

 
"Wearable devices can be exploited. Attackers can reproduce the trajectories of the user's hand and recover secret key entries to ATM cash machines, electronic door locks and keypad-controlled enterprise servers," said Yan Wang from Binghamton University in the US.
 
Researchers collected data from embedded sensors in wearable technologies such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, along with a computer algorithm to crack private PINs and passwords with 80 per cent accuracy on the first try and more than 90 per cent accuracy after three efforts.
 
The team conducted 5,000 key-entry tests on three security systems, including an ATM, with 20 adults wearing a variety of technologies over 11 months. 
 
They were able to record millimetre-level information of fine-grained hand movements from accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometres inside the wearable technologies regardless of a hand's pose. 
 
Those measurements lead to distance and direction estimations between consecutive keystrokes, which the team's "Backward PIN-sequence Inference Algorithm" used to break codes with alarming accuracy without context clues about the keypad.
 
"The threat is real, although the approach is sophisticated," Wang said in the paper presented at the "11th ACM on Asia Conference on Computer and Communications Security" conference in China recently.