• Requirement

    Obscure feedback of authentication information.

  • Discussion

    The feedback from systems does not provide any information that would allow unauthorized individuals to compromise authentication mechanisms. For some types of systems or system components, for example, desktop or notebook computers with relatively large monitors, the threat (often referred to as shoulder surfing) may be significant. For other types of systems or components, for example, mobile devices with small displays, this threat may be less significant, and is balanced against the increased likelihood of typographic input errors due to the small keyboards. Therefore, the means for obscuring the authenticator feedback is selected accordingly. Obscuring authenticator feedback includes displaying asterisks when users type passwords into input devices or displaying feedback for a very limited time before fully obscuring it.

More Info

  • Title

    Obscure Feedback
  • Domain

    Identification and Authentication
  • CMMC Level

  • Related NIST 800-171 ID

  • Related NIST 800-53 ID


  • DoD Scoring Methodology Points


  • Reference Documents

    • N/A

  • Further Discussion

    Authentication information includes passwords. When users enter a password, the system displays a symbol, such as an asterisk, to obscure feedback preventing others from seeing the actual characters. Feedback is obscured based on a defined policy (e.g., smaller devices may briefly show characters before obscuring).


    As a system administrator, you configure your systems to display an asterisk when users enter their passwords into a computer system [a]. For mobile devices, the password characters are briefly displayed to the user before being obscured. This prevents people from figuring out passwords by looking over someone’s shoulder.

    Potential Assessment Considerations

    • Is the feedback immediately obscured when the authentication is presented on a larger display (e.g., desktop or notebook computers with relatively large monitors) [a]?

NIST 800-171A Assessment Guidance

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