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Shoulder Surfing

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Shoulder Surfing


What is Shoulder Surfing?

Shoulder surfing is a social engineering act of looking over a user’s shoulder to gain unauthorized data. A prime example of this social attack is watching someone’s keystrokes as they type their password in order to gain unauthorized access to their account. This criminal social engineering attack is also known as visual hacking.

But criminals are getting more clever by the day. Advanced forms of shoulder surfing involve criminals using high-powered binoculars to watch people type credentials from afar. Another example is using CCTV and other video footage to record a person’s keystrokes at their computer in a coffee shop or at an ATM.

Data targeted for theft by criminals via shoulder surfing can include login credentials, debit card PINs for bank access, and more. However, shoulder surfing can be prevented through various methods:

  • Use authentication methods that don’t involve typing passwords.
  • When you’re at an ATM, make sure people can’t see you type your PIN.
  • Use screen covers so that others can’t see your screen from an angle, thereby reducing the risk.

Since criminals are getting creative with their attacks, users must stay vigilant.

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