Visual hacking – the underestimated risk of data theft  

Visual hacking – the underestimated risk of data theft

A quick glance is all it takes for visual hackers to spy on valuable information or sensitive data such as passwords, account information and more. The danger of spying without technical aids is hardly noticed by many companies.

Various studies have shown how easy it often is to steal data during visual hacking – this applies to desktop computers in open-plan offices or screens in retail stores as well as to notebooks that can be easily viewed by the person sitting next to them in a train or plane.

With privacy filters for PC and notebook screens and attentive behavior, the danger of visual hacking can be easily and quickly minimized.

What are the dangers of visual hacking?

The fatal thing about spying on data: A visual hacker often only needs one piece of information to start a large-scale data theft. 3M, in collaboration with The Visual Privacy Advisory Council (VPAC), has conducted an experiment to highlight the latent dangers.

The result of the tests in voluntarily participating companies: In 9 out of 10 cases, the visual hacker was able to access sensitive data; in 45 percent of data thefts, this took less than a quarter of an hour. One of the reasons for this: While IT security in companies concentrates primarily on virtual attacks from outside, the danger of visual hacking, i.e. spying on confidential data directly in the company building, is often underestimated.

Data protectors for retrofitting

With little effort and simple retrofitting, 3M privacy filters can prevent confidential data from being spyed on. The wafer-thin privacy screen is simply attached to the monitor or laptop and thwarts the unwanted reading with the special microlamella technology.

The data protectors are available in numerous sizes for common tablet, notebook and desktop screen sizes. Various versions are available, in the standard version with a glossy or matt surface as well as the gold version with a shimmering golden surface and a black surface.

Privacy filters for high-resolution screens

For the latest generation of high-resolution displays with 4K or 5K resolution, the 3M High Clarity privacy filters are suitable, which support the high screen quality with 30 percent greater clarity. The brilliant image quality offered by high-end devices such as the latest generation Apple MacBook Pro or an Apple iMac with retina display is thus combined with effective protection against visual data theft.

The vivid viewing experience, whether with high-resolution photos or graphics applications, is preserved. This is made possible by advanced Micro-Louver technology, which gives the privacy filter a glossy finish on both sides. Data confidentiality is guaranteed even from a 60 degree angle. The filters are available for high-resolution monitors and laptops with screen sizes from 14 to 27 inches.

Simultaneous scratch protection for the display

Practical for business trips and using the notebook in a variety of environments: Thanks to its patented, durable surface, the privacy filter also protects the display from scratches, dirt and dust. With almost all models, the filter can easily remain in the closed notebook.

5 additional tips against visual data theft

1. identify and eliminate weaknesses

These include PC screens that can be easily viewed by a large number of non-employees, for example in reception areas, or unlocked rooms where sensitive documents are often printed. Suitable security precautions must be taken here.

2. sensitize and train employees

Compliance requirements and regular employee training courses build on each other. These include requirements to always leave the workplace tidy, to lock away all confidential documents or to consistently use document shredders for papers that are no longer required.

3. secure computer accesses

At the computer workstation, automatic re-registration should be compulsory if the screen is inactive for a few minutes. Otherwise, strangers in orphaned offices can gain access to confidential data.

4. take physical precautions

Privacy filters and structural adaptations in offices or a different arrangement of desks and workplaces can nip visual hacking in the bud.

5. continuous safety checks

Data protection should become an integral part of general security reviews. Regular inspections several times a year can reveal weaknesses and identify areas where further training is needed.

cover picture: reichelt


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