Stop Shoulder Surfers Before They Stop Cybersecurity!
By Tom Seest
At BestCybersecurityNews, we help young learners and seniors learn more about cybersecurity.
An embarrassing scenario would involve having your bank account balance or passwords seen by strangers sitting nearby in public, even without malicious intentions being present; sometimes, this simply amounts to nosiness and an invasion of privacy.
Criminals use sophisticated techniques such as binoculars, miniature cameras, and public Wi-Fi networks to gain entry to victims’ devices or keypads and gather sensitive data from them.
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Public WiFi networks offer cybercriminals an easy way to gain entry to your devices. From accessing social media accounts and shopping sites to logging into work apps, public Wi-Fi networks are often unprotected and vulnerable to attack from attackers who could gain entry by exploiting its weaknesses to gain entry and steal passwords and sensitive information from you.
Shoulder surfing attacks can be avoided easily by not accessing confidential accounts in public, but sometimes circumstances force us to do just that. A VPN provides protection by creating an encrypted tunnel between you and the servers of websites or services you visit, such as social networks. If necessary, consider positioning yourself with your back against a wall when using laptops or tablets in public to limit who can see your screen.
Shoulder surfing involves monitoring another individual’s computer or mobile device screen and keyboard to gather sensitive information. This may involve direct observation – for instance, by looking over someone’s shoulder – or through hidden or visible video cameras, binoculars, and other optical devices. Shoulder surfers often aim to capture username and password combinations as well as credit card numbers/PINs/SSNs used as answers to security questions (for instance, their middle name/date of birth).
Criminals frequently prey upon crowded spaces where they can blend in undetected. Criminals might set up cameras near an ATM to capture PIN keystrokes entered and card details, for instance.
Shoulder surfers may seem harmless at first glance; however, their actions often harbor malicious intent, and their information could lead to security breaches, identity theft, and financial losses.
Of course, not all shoulder surfing is illegal, and some cyber professionals engage in it ethically as part of a Red Team engagement to evaluate an organization’s security posture. These professionals often obtain one of the leading Ethical Hacking Certifications so as to acquire skills and knowledge in an isolated environment to assess defensive controls effectively.
Risks associated with someone watching you enter passwords or authentication information onto your mobile device are real. Cyber attackers frequently employ this tactic to gain entry to unauthorized accounts and engage in other criminal acts such as data breaches, identity thefts, and financial loss.
Shoulder surfing is one of the primary methods by which cyber attackers steal sensitive information from devices and users. It involves an attacker peering over your shoulder, listening in on conversations, or using various spying tools to eavesdrop. Shoulder surfers can steal passwords, credit card numbers, OTPs, chat applications, and payment apps stored on these devices, as well as much else from them.
Attacks like these often target public areas like malls, airports, transit stations, and ATMs – often using sophisticated technologies like binoculars, CCTV cameras, apps, and public Wi-Fi networks to spy on people.
Once attackers gain access to your sensitive data, they can repurpose it over and over. They could create new accounts on social media or other accounts that give them further access to your life – potentially filing taxes in your name, applying for loans or credit cards in your name, or even renting apartments with it all resulting in you paying back what was taken as well as incurring costly damage to both your credit rating and criminal record.
There are ways you can protect yourself from shoulder surfers, such as using a password manager that doesn’t require typing your password into an app or using facial recognition or fingerprint scanning to log into accounts instead of typing one manually. Although not foolproof, these measures make it harder for shoulder surfers to eavesdrop on password entry and prevent shoulder surfers from spying on it. You could also work against a wall and scan surrounding areas for cameras as another measure to limit the field of view; some apps even allow you to enter passwords using gaze instead of typing fingers, making it almost impossible for shoulder surfers to spy on what was occurring before entering it!
Optics devices are an easy and discreet way for criminals to gain access to sensitive data on your device’s screen or password-typing keypad, including usernames and passwords, credit card numbers, bank account details, OTPs (one-time pins), and more. While earlier shoulder surfers might use simple techniques such as standing nearby with binoculars or recording devices to monitor people using electronic gadgets remotely – modern cyber criminals use sophisticated binoculars or recording devices instead for monitoring users through electronic gadgets.
These attack methods are effective because they don’t require physical contact between victim and attacker. A criminal can stand close to someone to observe their device screens, PINs/OTPs, and even listen in on chat conversations in social media apps like WhatsApp. High-powered listening devices or binoculars may also be used remotely – something increasingly prevalent due to new tech such as drones/UAVs.
Shoulder surfing can often occur in public settings like airport lounges, shopping centers, ATM kiosks, railway stations, and restaurants/bars. An attacker could easily see your passwords and OTPs enter the system or hear you enter them into your banking app – as an attacker, this provides them with ample opportunities for attack.
Criminals can use a device known as an “ATM Skimmer,” or an ATM card reader impostor, to steal your account details while you use an ATM machine. They could even place hidden cameras within it to monitor PIN keystrokes.
However, there are numerous strategies available to you to decrease the risk of shoulder surfing. One simple solution is investing in a privacy display on your smartphone, which fuzzes its screen when not in use and shields against unwanted peering eyes. Some manufacturers, such as HP, have begun offering privacy mode mobile phones or Sure View displays.
Maintaining the most up-to-date security patches on your operating system and other applications can help. Another solution is using a fraud monitoring service like Aura, which keeps tabs on all accounts in their care and alerts of suspicious activity – offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection on them all.
Shoulder surfing can be conducted with malicious intentions and result in identity theft and financial losses, or it can simply be carried out as an invasion of privacy by curious onlookers.
Today’s attackers differ greatly from traditional shoulder surfers who would stand and watch targets enter passwords into computers or phones, using devices such as shoulder surgers. Instead, modern attackers often remain undetected as they quietly observe others in public places such as airport lounges, shopping centers, restaurants, bars, trains or subways, buses, or flights, using devices like binoculars, miniature video secrete cameras or image magnification technology in order to spy on others.
Once an attacker has enough personal information about a target, they can gain entry to sensitive accounts such as bank accounts, social media profiles, and email. Once inside, they can commit cyber fraud or engage in illegal activities like extortion, blackmail, and sexual assault against that individual.
Shoulder surfers are notorious for exploiting victims by stealing passwords. By watching people type passwords into their phones or computers, shoulder surfers are able to obtain enough data that allows them to break into accounts later on. Therefore, it is essential not to rely solely on passwords but to use biometric security such as fingerprint and facial recognition as backup measures.
Shoulder surfers can gain your information through overhearing conversations. In public spaces where noise levels cannot be managed effectively, this makes it easy for someone to listen in on your private chats and conversations and gain valuable data like PIN numbers and passwords.
As part of your defense against shoulder surfing attacks, it is vital that you remain mindful of your surroundings at all times. If you are in a busy restaurant or coffee shop, avoid conducting sensitive transactions such as checking accounts until after leaving public spaces such as restaurants. When using devices in public spaces, try keeping the screen size as small as possible so it is less likely for onlookers to see what you are doing.
Please share this post with your friends, family, or business associates who may encounter cybersecurity attacks.