NYPD summons the Skim Reaper

NYPD summons the Skim Reaper

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has begun trialling a new tool, dubbed the "Skim Reaper", that can quickly detect if an ATM or gas pump has been compromised by skimmers.

Skimming, where crooks install devices on ATMs to steal card information, is widespread in the city, particularly at machines at bodegas.

The NYPD has four full-time detectives scouring the city for the devices but, following a January spike in related crimes, called in cybersecurity expert Patrick Traynor for help.

While working with the cops to find a way to detect the skimmers, Traynor received an alert telling him that his own information had been compromised.

"I’ve got 15 years of experience in the field of information security. If I can’t protect myself reliably, who else possibly can?" University of Florida professor Traynor told the Associated Press.

Traynor and two graduate students have come up with the Skim Reaper, a credit card-sized gadget that slides into card reader slots. The card is attached via a wire to a phone-sized device with a screen that warns “possible skimmer!” when multiple read heads are detected.

The NYPD has been testing five of the devices and says that they are proving useful in helping untrained officers spot compromised ATMs.

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