Skimming devices are the bane of every gas station’s existence. They sit discreetly under the pump hoods, scan everything that swipes across them, and conveniently pass the scanned data to crooks lodging in the comforts of their tinted cars and vans just outside the gas stations.
These devices cost cheap to manufacture, usually around $20, but they can steal more than $3,000 per day from each gas pump.
The worst part is they can be hard to detect, sometimes even impossible, and inspectors need to manually dig into the machines to spot them.
Thankfully, though, we might be seeing the end of the “Bane”. And it’s not some masked avenger who has come to save the day but an app…
Rise the Dark Knight—the Bluetana App!
Developed by a team of computer scientists at the University of Illinois and University of California San Diego, Bluetana is an app that helps detects Bluetooth-enabled skimmers without having to dismantle the gas pump. The app uses an algorithm, which extracts and studies Bluetooth protocol specs from a device, and then leverages the extracted information to distinguish between Bluetooth-enabled skimmers and legitimate devices.
Bluetana can detect a skimmer within 3 seconds. Compare this to the manual inspection process, which can take 30 minutes on average to complete, and you can see why industry experts are so excited about the prospects the app brings.
Besides speed, accuracy also remains a strong feature of Bluetana, with studies having shown the app to be more accurate than other similar apps and tools on the market.
Bluetana has already been put to field use, where it has helped regulators find and recover 42 skimming devices in three states, in one year. The inspecting teams also found two skimmers through the app that were installed at gas pumps and had evaded detection for six months.
Currently, Bluetana is only available to gas pump inspectors and law enforcement officials.
What’s the point then, you ask?
Hey, we didn’t have access to Batmobile and The Bat either, but they still helped stop Bane, right?
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