PIN-punching $200 robot can brute force every Android numeric screen-password in 19 hours

Justin Engler and Paul Vines will demo a robot called the Robotic Reconfigurable Button Basher (R2B2) at Defcon; it can work its way through every numeric screen-lock Android password in 19 hours. They built for for less than $200, including the 3D printed parts. It doesn't work on screen-patterns (they're working on that) nor on Ios devices (which exponentially increase the lockout times between unsuccessful password attempts). They're also whomping up new versions that can simulate screen-taps with electrodes, which will run much faster. They're also working on versions that can work against hotel-room safes, ATMs, and other PIN-pad devices. It's a good argument for a longer PIN (six-digit PINs take 80 days to crack), and for using robust and random PINs (26% of users use one of 20 PINs).

Engler and Vines built their bot, shown briefly in the video above, from three $10 servomotors, a plastic stylus, an open-source Arduino microcontroller, a collection of plastic parts 3D-printed on their local hackerspace’s Makerbot 3D printer, and a five dollar webcam that watches the phone’s screen to detect if it’s successfully guessed the password. The device can be controlled via USB, connecting to a Mac or Windows PC that runs a simple code-cracking program. The researchers plan to release both the free software and the blueprints for their 3D-printable parts at the time of their Def Con talk.

In addition to their finger-like R2B2, Engler and Vines are also working on another version of their invention that will instead use electrodes attached to a phone’s touchscreen, simulating capacitative screen taps with faster electrical signals. That bot, which they’re calling the Capacitative Cartesian Coordinate Brute-force Overlay or C3BO, remains a work in progress, Engler says, though he plans to have it ready for Def Con.

PIN-Punching Robot Can Crack Your Phone's Security Code In Less Than 24 Hours (Video) [Andy Greenberg/Forbes]

(via Hacker News)

Notable Replies

  1. You could defeat the robot it by having an exponentially increasing lock out after each wrong password.

  2. I'm going to build a robot that punches the phone's owner repeatedly until it divulges the PIN.

  3. Every numeric password in 19 hours. Right. Uh huh.

    It would take 19 years for mine. Unlike iOS, Android isn't limited to 4 digits.

  4. My method works on all models of phone.

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