We may all have come across capturing and recording our own screen to save some information for ourselves, but how about other people doing so without asking?

Let's have an example here: an attacker somehow gained the access to your device (could be pc or mobile) through malware which bypassed or altered the access control. It silently recorded and captured all the information displayed on your screen, and sent them back to the attacker. Moreover, for mobile devices, the attacker may record your passcode pattern or the unlock process (like typing in the PIN). So,

Is this kind of attack possible?

Is there any solution to defend such an attack? And

What if the attacker combines it with other tools like keylogger etc. to perform a more comprehensive attack?

  • Note about the off-topic question you asked: no, if it can be displayed, then the screen capture can see it. – schroeder Mar 7 at 15:30

Short answer: this is a classic form of spyware/malware.

It is not so common anymore because the data it collects (images) has to be interpreted by a human, so it's not efficient.

Lots of technical controls are in place to prevent this. For instance, the login screens for an operating system are run outside of the user's operating space, so this type of malware cannot typically record you logging in (there are variants that can actually do this, but I have not heard of them in a long while).

Anti-malware software is designed to look for this type of behavior and will alert you about it. I'm not sure how complete the coverage is on this by the vendors.

Looking for unknown processes in the background and inspecting traffic going to unknown or unexpected locations helps to detect this sort of infection.

But as I said, it's just not efficient to carry out this type of attack, not when you can make billions with dodgy emails that have an infected PDF that installs ransomware.

  • 1
    Historically, there have been a lot of attempts to thwart this type of attack. On-screen keyboards, complex blocks when logging in, etc. But every one was defeated by more clever programmers. – schroeder Mar 7 at 15:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.