iPhone PIN Code Hack Using Thermal Imaging

iPhone PIN Code Hack Using Thermal Imaging

For every technology that is available to the public to use for good, it seems that there are at least 50 bad guys out there who determine a way to use it for malice. Such is the case with FLIR, a company that develops thermal imaging systems to “improve the way people interact with the world around them, enhance public safety and well-being, increase energy efficiency, and enable healthy and entertained communities.” (Remember,FLIR’s technology was used to find the Boston Marathon bomber hiding in aparked boat outside someone’s home.)

Since then, FLIR has developed a thermal camera for the iPhone 5 and 5s; FLIR ONE fits directly onto the phone’s screen. Weighing in at just 3.9 ounces, it is light and compact, but packs a powerful punch to enhance the users’ perception of the world around him or her. With practical uses such as finding electrical shorts at your home, checking around your car that is parked in a dark parking lot to detecting intruders in your home or back yard, the malice comes when it is used to capture PIN codes on keypads at retail cash registers.

According to UC San Diego researchers’ data, they were able to guess the correct PIN codes 80% of the time if the thermal image was taken right after someone touched the keypad. Even if the image was taken 1 minute later, researchers still had a 50/50 chance of guessing the correct code.

So, how do we protect our PIN codes from getting stolen from thermal cameras? After you enter your PIN code, simply rest your hand over the whole keypad, covering all the numbers for a couple of seconds. This makes the thermal image read as just a blob of color, “erasing” the numbers you just pushed.

Oh, and another precaution: Do you have one of those fancy keypad locks on your home or office? Be sure to cover all the numbers after entering your access code, just in case someone is following you and wants to gain access behind you.

About the Author

Ginger Hill is Group Social Media Manager.


  • 12 Commercial Crime Sites to Do Your Research

    12 Commercial Crime Sites to Do Your Research

    Understanding crime statistics in your industry and area is crucial for making important decisions about your security budget. With so much information out there, how can you know which statistics to trust? Read Now

  • Boosting Safety and Efficiency

    Boosting Safety and Efficiency

    In alignment with the state of Mississippi’s mission of “Empowering Mississippi citizens to stay connected and engaged with their government,” Salient's CompleteView VMS is being installed throughout more than 150 state boards, commissions and agencies in order to ensure safety for thousands of constituents who access state services daily. Read Now

  • Live From GSX: Post-Show Review

    Live From GSX: Post-Show Review

    This year’s Live From GSX program was a rousing success! Again, we’d like to thank our partners, and IPVideo, for working with us and letting us broadcast their solutions to the industry. You can follow our Live From GSX 2023 page to keep up with post-show developments and announcements. And if you’re interested in working with us in 2024, please don’t hesitate to ask about our Live From programs for ISC West in March or next year’s GSX. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • GSX
  • People Say the Funniest Things

    People Say the Funniest Things

    By all accounts, GSX version 2023 was completely successful. Apparently, there were plenty of mix-ups with the airlines and getting aircraft from the East Coast into Big D. I am all ears when I am in a gathering of people. You never know when a nugget of information might flip out. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • GSX

Featured Cybersecurity


New Products

  • QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    The latest Qualcomm® Vision Intelligence Platform offers next-generation smart camera IoT solutions to improve safety and security across enterprises, cities and spaces. The Vision Intelligence Platform was expanded in March 2022 with the introduction of the QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC), which delivers superior artificial intelligence (AI) inferencing at the edge. 3

  • XS4 Original+

    XS4 Original+

    The SALTO XS4 Original+ design is based on the same proven housing and mechanical mechanisms of the XS4 Original. The XS4 Original+, however, is embedded with SALTO’s BLUEnet real-time functionality and SVN-Flex capability that enables SALTO stand-alone smart XS4 Original+ locks to update user credentials directly at the door. Compatible with the array of SALTO platform solutions including SALTO Space data-on-card, SALTO KS Keys as a Service cloud-based access solution, and SALTO’s JustIn Mobile technology for digital keys. The XS4 Original+ also includes RFID Mifare DESFire, Bluetooth LE and NFC technology functionality. 3

  • ComNet CNGE6FX2TX4PoE

    The ComNet cost-efficient CNGE6FX2TX4PoE is a six-port switch that offers four Gbps TX ports that support the IEEE802.3at standard and provide up to 30 watts of PoE to PDs. It also has a dedicated FX/TX combination port as well as a single FX SFP to act as an additional port or an uplink port, giving the user additional options in managing network traffic. The CNGE6FX2TX4PoE is designed for use in unconditioned environments and typically used in perimeter surveillance. 3