Share the article
Subscribe for updates
Sardine needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

What is phone theft and how do you prevent it?

The Growing Threat of Phone Theft

In the ever-evolving landscape of financial security, banks, and fintech companies are now grappling with a new, formidable, rising threat - phone theft. Banks and neobanks recognize the potential consequences of phone theft. Failing to address the rising threat not only exposes customers to financial risks but also undermines customer trust

This alarming trend has become a pressing concern as criminals exploit the PIN codes used for security. In this blog post, we will delve into the challenges faced by financial institutions in combatting phone theft and its potential ramifications for consumers' financial well-being.

The "Shoulder Surfing" Technique:

This method involves a criminal standing behind an unsuspecting individual and observing them as they enter their PIN codes. The implications are alarming, as this simple act can grant thieves access to an individual's financial life.

The Role of the Phone as a Security Tool:

To understand how phone theft has become a significant threat, we must first recognize the growing reliance on smartphones as a primary security tool in banking apps. Many banking apps consider the PIN code the main entry point for their secure applications, sometimes surpassing the security level of biometric authentication methods.

If biometric authentication fails, users can often gain full access to their accounts by entering the PIN code. Exploiting this vulnerability, fraudsters gain access to the victim's apps, bypassing or failing biometric authentication and gaining entry by entering the PIN code.

The Danger of Unauthorized Access:

Once an unauthorized user gains access to an individual's financial accounts, they have free rein to manipulate the funds as they please. This includes the ability to transfer life savings into an account under their control, posing a significant risk to the victim's financial security.

Recognizing the Limitations of Traditional Security Measures:

While relying on passcodes to protect consumers may seem logical, it is crucial to acknowledge that passwords and passcodes are not the only solutions. Biometric authentication, although promising, cannot be relied upon solely to safeguard our financial assets. As a result, a solution to complement these traditional security measures is necessary.

The Overlooked Solution: Intrinsic Behavior Analysis:

Intrinsic behavior analysis is one often overlooked method of bolstering security and confidently determining whether a phone has been stolen. Each individual has unique patterns of interaction with their devices, such as swipes, taps, and typing styles. This is where the Sardine SDK comes into play, as it can recognize and analyze these subtle behavioral nuances that make each user unique.

Understanding Device and Behavioral Patterns:

At Sardine, we focus on assessing the device and user behavior. By understanding your specific typing style, login habits, and even the way you hold your phone, we can establish a baseline of your behavioral patterns. The more signals we gather from these distinctive traits, the more confidently we can identify whether it is genuinely you interacting with the device.

Alerting You to Suspicious Activity:

By continuously monitoring these behavioral traits, our fraud alert system becomes vital in detecting any changes that may indicate unauthorized access or theft. When deviations from your established patterns occur, our system raises the alarm, notifying you of potential fraudulent activity and allowing you to take prompt action.


As phone theft continues to pose a significant threat to financial security, businesses operating in the financial services industry must recognize the importance of addressing this issue. Understanding the vulnerabilities associated with relying solely on PIN codes and the limitations of biometric authentication, there is a clear need for solutions that leverage intrinsic behavior analysis.

That’s what we do at Sardine. If you’re curious, why not book a demo?

Share the article
About the author
Soups Ranjan
Co-Founder, CEO