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Hackers can use body heat to steal passwords

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

 

Hackers can use body heat to steal passwordsET CIO

If you think your computerpassword is safe, you may want to think again.

A worrying new study by researchers from the University of California, Irvine, has revealed that hackers can steal your password based on the heat left by your fingers on the keyboard.

Speaking to resource site Bleeping Computer, Professor Gene Tsudik, who worked on the study, said, “It’s a new attack that allows someone with a mid-range thermal camera to capture keys pressed on a normal keyboard, up to one minute after the victim enters them.

"If you type your password and walk or step away, someone can learn a lot about it after-the-fact.

The researchers named this type of attack ‘Thermanator’, and say it can be used to gain access to text, codes and even banking pins.

For the attack to work, the hacker must place a thermal camera in clear view of the victim’s keyboard. The footage can be used to decode which keys the victim has pressed, which can then be assembled into different codes.

During trials, 31 participants entered their passwords on four types of keyboard. Eight non-experts were asked to derive the set of key pressed, based on the thermal camera footage.

The results showed that thermal data recorded up to 30 seconds after the passwords were entered was good enough to allow the non-expert attackers to recover the keys.

Researchers hope this will encourage a move away from passwords and to more secure methods.

 


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