Shoulder surfing is a type of social engineering attack where an attacker observes someone’s screen, keyboard, or any other device to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information. It is typically performed by secretly watching the victim during data entry, either directly or indirectly through reflections, smartphones, or other recording equipment.
How Shoulder Surfing Occurs
- Direct observation: An attacker stands close to the target and observes their activities, such as typing passwords, entering credit card details, or accessing confidential data.
- Using cameras: An attacker may use a hidden camera or a smartphone to secretly record keystrokes, which can be analyzed later to extract sensitive information.
- Seeing reflections: Attackers may view reflections on nearby surfaces such as windows, shiny objects, or even the victim’s glasses to monitor their activities.
Preventing Shoulder Surfing
To protect yourself from shoulder surfing, follow these guidelines:
- Be aware of your surroundings, especially in public places where the risk of shoulder surfing is higher.
- Use privacy screens or screen guards to reduce the visibility of your device from different angles.
- If using a smartphone or tablet, tilt the screen towards you and away from potential observers.
- When entering sensitive information such as PIN codes or passwords, shield your keyboard or keypad with your body or hand.
- Change passwords regularly and avoid using easy-to-guess or common passwords.
- Educate employees about the risks of shoulder surfing and the importance of maintaining confidentiality in the workplace.
By staying cautious and adopting these security measures, you can greatly reduce the risk of shoulder surfing and protect your sensitive data from unauthorized access.