Do you remember when you were a kid and you thought the kid sitting next to you was peeking at your test paper? You’d try to put your arm all the way around the page and you’d lean in so close your nose was almost touching the table. You’d block out so much light you’d practically be writing in the dark.
I used to do that way into my fifties.
Not on tests. I’m very happy to say those days are far behind me! But I’d be sitting in a café with my laptop or I’d be on a plane on my way to give a talk, and I’d find myself trying to sit so that no one could see what was on my screen.
I might not have been able to throw my arm around my computer, but in a café I’d look for a seat next to the wall then try to tilt the screen down so that no one could see what I was writing. If had the window seat, I’d turn my body so that my iPad faced the wall. And if I was next to the aisle, I’d make the font small so that people walking past couldn’t see. (If I was in the middle seat, I’d be too busy crying about my rotten luck to work anyway.)
Of course, that doesn’t stop me from peeking at everyone else’s screens. If someone opens their laptop at the table next to me, I’m going to look. I’m not proud of it, but it happens. I don’t stand behind them and point out their typos but I’ll see them looking at their Facebook page or reading a document or compiling some code. It’s just natural curiosity. I’m sure you’ve done the same thing… and I’m sure the same thing has been done to you.
Computer experts call it “visual hacking” and in a series of studies by 3M, an undercover white hacker was able to visually hack information 88 percent of the time. In almost half the trials, the hacker was able to capture information in fifteen minutes or less, and was only stopped 30 percent of the time.
In each trial, the hacker saw an average of five pieces of sensitive information including corporate financials and confidential employee and customer information.
I don’t have any great secrets on my laptop or on my tablet that absolutely no one can ever know. I don’t know what the nuclear codes are, and the secret ingredient in my top secret mac n’ cheese recipe is… cheese. (There, it’s out now.)
But you just don’t want people sneaking a peek over your shoulder when you’re trying to get some work done.
So I’ve started using 3M’s visual privacy filter. It’s a screen protector that sticks to the screen of your tablet or computer. When you look at it directly, you can’t notice it, but anyone sitting next to you at an angle of more than 30 degrees sees nothing but black. (Or gold. Donald Trump probably uses that one.)
You can’t tell I’ve got a 3M Visual Privacy filter on my iPhone 6 until…
… you turn it sideways, making it difficult for a snoop to see my screen!
Sure, if I was looking at “top secret stuff” while I was in a café it would make it a lot harder for people to see what I was doing. But even when I’m just checking Facebook or writing a tweet, it makes me feel a lot more comfortable. So far, it’s been great.
Now, if they could just make a version that fits onto test papers…
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of 3M. The opinions and text are all mine.