New App Can Detect Credit Card Skimmers

New App Can Detect Credit Card Skimmers

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Researchers at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have been developing software that can detect Bluetooth-enabled skimmers without having to dismantle suspected gas pumps and ATMs. The development came in the wake of field testers observing 1,185 Bluetooth gas pump skimmers in six U.S. states.

Bluetooth skimmers have emerged as a popular way for thieves to harvest credit card information from unsuspecting individuals, especially given the low start-up cost of a mere $20 to develop. The $20 investment can often result in thousands of dollars of personal information.

The new app, Bluetana, works by detecting Bluetooth signatures that can indicate the presence of a skimmer. The prefix of the Bluetooth device’s unique MAC address is then compared to previously recovered prefixes that have been knowingly used in past skimmers recovered by law enforcement. The app also uses signal strength to reliably determine if a skimmer is located near a gas pump.

Bluetana has already detected 64 Bluetooth-based skimmers that had previously evaded traditional scans. In addition to improved accuracy, Bluetana cuts detection time down to just a few seconds rather than minutes.

Unfortunately, the app will not be hitting consumer markets anytime soon. The app is only presently available for use by U.S. law enforcement. Researchers say the app is already in use in several U.S. states.

In a time when the security of personal information is of utmost importance, it’s nice to know that there are researchers proactively working to halt fraudulent activities.

Story via Tech Crunch

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