When I see something labeled tamper-resistant or even tamper-proof I don’t assume it is secure I just think that it is a little more difficult to break into than something that isn’t tamper-resistant. Three researchers at the University of Cambridge have figured out that PIN entry keypads used for Chip+Pin transactions in the UK are anything but tamper-resistant. They have published a paper to show just how easy it is to break them open and record customer data as they swipe their cards and enter their pin numbers. I applaud their effort but all they had to do was look at what happened to Stop & Shop Supermarkets a few short months ago.
Here is some advice which you can use, at least here in the US, don’t trust those card swipe and pin entry machines at the checkout counter. Most Debit cards from US banks will also work as a VISA or MasterCard. If your at WalMart and you whip out the ATM card and the machine asks you for your PIN, hit cancel. If the checkout lady at the supermarket asks “Debit or Credit” always, always say credit. If that little machine at the checkout stand is secretly recording your card number at least you won’t also be giving it your PIN and complete access to your checking account. While this won’t stop fraud it will make the bad guys work a little harder. Hard enough perhaps that they skip your card and go to the next one. Not to mention that VISA and MasterCard probably offer a bit more fraud protection than your local bank.