Beware of smart phone "PIN Skimming"

PIN Skimming

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Many of us are too lazy to lock our phones with a special and unique PIN or other safety code. However, we should be locking them.

Unfortunately we've learned that lock is not always secure.

There's something new to worry about called PIN Skimming. The good news is this PIN hacking attempt was done by good guy researchers in a lab at the University of Cambridge. Cyber Expert Theresa Payton explains how it works and how to protect yourself:

1. First you would have to click on an infected link or attachment. Think about how keyloggers work today on your home computer to steal your password.

2. Once infected, the PIN Skimmer can correctly guess a high proportion of PINs using the device's camera and microphone.

3. By using your own phone's camera, they could watch your eye movements as you entered a PIN or use your microphone to hear your touches on the phone - this allowed them to guess your PIN number

How effective can this be?

1. They guessed the 4 digit PINs more than 50% of the time within 5 attempts

2. They guessed the 8 digit PINs 45% of the time after 5 tries and 60% within 10 attempts

So What Can You Do?

1. Automatically lock your phone within a few minutes

2. Use anti virus and anti malware on your mobile phone

3. Consider moving from a PIN to a password

4. Only download apps from approved sources. Don't click on links or attachments in haste - you may invite the PIN Skimmer onto your phone and not even know it

5. Keep your operating system and browser up to date

6. Turn off bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not in use

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