Spotlight: Visual Hacking – a growing threat to confidential data

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28 January 2017 | 0

 

Four out of five mobile workers recently surveyed by Ponemon Institute* said they have caught someone looking over their shoulder at their laptop screen in a public space. This low-tech threat, known as visual hacking, is a growing concern as more workers are accessing confidential company information outside of the office in public spaces.

Spotlight_SmallKey survey findings:

  • 69% of those surveyed said their visual privacy had been violated in the workplace
  • 59% of employees take their work outside office walls
  • 21% implement a visual privacy policy
  • 95% of all data security incidents involve human error

At the same time, more than half of those surveyed also said they took no steps to protect information when working in public. The glimpses that others get of our screens, whether on an airplane, in a coffee shop or on a train, may be fleeting and harmless, but these views also may be much more than simple curiosity. Especially as cyber-defences become ever stronger, device screens can be luring targets for hackers seeking new ways to obtain valuable data from people and organisations.

“Doing a walkthrough of your organisation’s workspaces can help you uncover issues, such as identifying monitors that are exposed to high-traffic areas. Practice situational awareness when working in public spaces, such as a coffee shop, hotel lobby or airport”

“Data is more exposed than ever, as the rise of open-office floor plans and mobile workforce have resulted in fewer barriers to conceal information. While some may consider visual hacking a low-tech threat to data privacy, a visual hacker may only need one piece of valuable information to unlock a large-scale data breach,” says Eoin Geaney, general manager for 3M Ireland.

With the 10th annual Data Protection Day in mind, here are the steps to minimise visual hacking:

Begin an audit: Doing a walkthrough of your organisation’s workspaces can help you uncover issues, such as identifying monitors that are exposed to high-traffic areas. Practice situational awareness when working in public spaces, such as a coffee shop, hotel lobby or airport. Seek out areas that provide the most privacy from prying eyes.

Apply physical safeguards: Use attachable screen privacy filters to shield confidential information displayed on a screen from side-angled views. Gold screen privacy filters are quite in trend.

Develop guidance for employees: Your employees can be your most-powerful defence against visual hackers. Right policies such as clean-desk reduce the risk of information being exposed.

As the expert in visual privacy, 3M offers the industry’s broadest line of privacy products to fit popular devices. The Visual Privacy solutions can be applied to screens of desktop monitors, laptops, tablets and smart phones to help organisations prevent visual hacking.

Visual hacking may be a low-tech threat, but its consequences can be just as serious and costly as any other hack or data breach. On Data Protection Day, ask yourself: are we doing everything we can to address this very real threat?

 

Pooja Dey is marketing manager for 3M Ireland

 

* Ponemon Institute, Public Spaces Interview Study, 2017, sponsored by 3M. Study based on responses from 46 professional mobile workers.

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