July 2014 IT Business Consulting Newsletter

Eyes Everywhere

By Tom K

They can watch your every move, anywhere, any time. Your personal information, CC #s, PINs, passwords can be grabbed in seconds. It is happening today, and it will be worse tomorrow.

In this month’s article I present a very real threat to all of your personal and financial information, discuss why it will only get worse, and offer suggestions to protect yourself.

This is one of those quick, but so very important, reads… Please take a few moments!

The Threat Today

You are at the checkout counter. You swipe your card and type your PIN. The lady behind you in line with the two kids filmed it all on her smart-phone. Yes, it looked like she was just talking on the phone, but bringing the phone to ear height gave her the perfect angle to record everything. She has your CC # and your PIN recorded. She can play it back in slo-mo, blow it up, and digitally enhance every frame. If you’re using an Am Ex, she has your 4 digit security code. If you’re using a Visa and happened to flip the card over, she has your 3 digit code.

You’re sitting in the corner of the local coffee shop. You make sure no one can see your iPad screen. You do a little on-line shopping. But… someone across the room is filming you with a smart phone. They can’t see your screen, but they can see your fingers. They later run their video through an app that syncs your finger position to the iPad’s virtual keyboard, and they get a replay of every keystroke of your shopping session, including your CC #, security code, name, and address.

In the old days, if someone was hovering behind you with a video camera, you’d be cautious about your movements. But today, every smart phone is a hi-res video camera, and since everyone has one you don’t see it as a specific threat. BE CAREFUL! Now, anyone can easily record your PIN, your cards, your codes, and your passwords. If you are not wary, they can record your PC & laptop keyboards, smart phones, keypads, iPads, pretty much anything.

The Threat Tomorrow

And it will only get worse! It won’t be long until Google Glass and smart watches become as ubiquitous as smart phones are today. Everyone will have a hi-res video camera on their forehead &/or wrist, and your information will be the target of many of them.

What to Do?

So, what can you do to protect yourself and your information? Be Paranoid!!! Pay attention to those around you & what they are doing, and what they have in their hands or on their foreheads. Remember – EVERYONE has a video camera in their possession! Go back to “old school”. Block line of sight to those keypads. Cover your hand with your other hand when typing PINs and codes. When you swipe your CC, cover the card number with your thumb.

The Future

The credit card industry is aware of this huge security issue and they are working with the technology vendors to find ways to mitigate the threat. They are testing beta systems where you hit a button on your tablet or smart phone to scramble your keypad. The numbers and characters shift so that keystroke pattern mapping apps no longer work. You will have to “hunt & peck” on the scrambled keypad to enter your PIN or code, but when done you hit the button again and your virtual keyboard returns to normal for non-secure typing.

But it will be a while before this hits the mainstream. We’ll probably see Google Glass first. So be diligent, keep an eye out for cameras, and use physical methods to block your keystrokes from video surveillance.

If you have any questions about any of the info in this article, or if there is anything I can do to help you with concerns over identity theft, please don’t hesitate to contact me at TomK@TomKConsulting.com, or via my cell 443.310.5110.

Next month I’ll start the two part overview of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) I’ve been mentioning for the last couple of months. Every company that accepts or processes credit cards, or touches a credit card transaction in any manner, must comply with this standard. Pretty serious stuff…