What is Shoulder Surfing? A Sneaky Cyber Attack and How to Avoid It

In our digital age, we often focus on protecting our online presence from hackers and cybercriminals. However, it's equally important to be aware of the physical threats that can compromise our security. One such threat is "shoulder surfing," a sneaky technique that can lead to the theft of sensitive information. Let's explore what shoulder surfing is and provide tips on how to avoid falling victim to this type of cyber attack.

What is Shoulder Surfing?

Shoulder surfing is the act of surreptitiously observing someone as they enter sensitive information on their device, such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer. This can be done either directly, by looking over the person's shoulder, or indirectly, using a camera, smartphone, or other recording devices. The goal of the attacker is to obtain valuable information, such as passwords, PIN codes, or credit card numbers, which can then be used for fraudulent purposes.

Shoulder surfing can occur in various settings, including public transportation, coffee shops, libraries, or even at the workplace. It may seem like a low-tech method compared to sophisticated cyber attacks, but its simplicity and effectiveness make it a popular choice among criminals.

Ways to Avoid Shoulder Surfing

To protect yourself from shoulder surfing, consider adopting the following strategies:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings: When entering sensitive information on your device, always be mindful of who is around you and whether they can see your screen. Choose a location that minimizes the likelihood of someone looking over your shoulder or position yourself in a way that obstructs their view.
  2. Use privacy screens: Invest in a privacy screen protector for your device, which limits the viewing angle of your screen and makes it difficult for others to see what you're typing or viewing. These are available for smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
  3. Shield your inputs: When using an ATM, point-of-sale terminal, or other public devices that require inputting sensitive information, use your free hand or body to shield the keypad from the view of others.
  4. Be cautious with public Wi-Fi: Avoid entering sensitive information when connected to public Wi-Fi networks, as attackers may be monitoring your activity. If you must access sensitive information, use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your connection.
  5. Enable biometric authentication: If your device supports it, enable biometric authentication methods, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, to secure access to your device and sensitive accounts. This can help reduce the risk of shoulder surfing, as attackers would need your physical presence to gain access.

In conclusion, while shoulder surfing may seem like a low-tech threat, it can have serious consequences if sensitive information falls into the wrong hands. By staying vigilant and adopting these strategies, you can protect yourself from this sneaky cyber attack and maintain the security of your personal information. Always remember, the key to effective protection lies in a combination of awareness, vigilance, and strong security practices.

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