Dwight Watt

“Shoulder surfing” is a term used in cyber-security, and it is often assumed that everyone understands the term.

Shoulder surfing is a way that people will quite often steal passwords. They could be passwords for your computer, for programs, for your debit card PIN or ATM card PIN (PIN is Personal Identifying Number, the number you type in as a password at checkout or at an ATM).

The way people steal password when shoulder surfing is looking over your shoulder while you type in a password (where name came from) or watching to the side of you for what you are typing in. This is the reason you see most debit card machines with shields on them so the next person in line does not see what you type.

To protect yourself from shoulder surfing, always keep the area you are typing in shielded or covered. Trying to keep people standing back further can be helpful, but in a lot of cases in stores the line is pushing up on you. When you are the next one in line, show courtesy and stand back a little when someone uses a debit/credit card.

Shoulder surfing is considered a part of social engineering which are items where people voluntarily give security information to the bad people, although in some cases like shoulder surfing, it may be done without realizing it.

Send me your questions about computers to me at the paper or to my e-mail dwight@dwightwatt.com and tell me you read this in this paper. I will pick a question to answer each week.

Dwight Watt does computer work for businesses, individuals and organizations and teaches about computers at a college in NW Georgia. His webpage is www.dwightwatt.com His e-mail address is dwight@dwightwatt.com.