If you’re constantly glancing over your shoulder at work, nervous that a nosy colleague or errant visitor will spot something more incriminating than your Facebook feed, then HP Inc. has a solution for you – assuming you’re using the company’s EliteBook 1040 or EliteBook 840, anyway.
Beginning in September, consumers who purchase either notebook will have the option of adding HP Sure View, a new feature that, with the push of a button, will make the screen difficult to see when viewed from an angle, the company announced today.
While the idea of someone else reading (but not copying or photographing) sensitive information on your computer might sound more like a breach of ethics than security, in an Aug. 25 statement Alex Cho, HP’s vice president and general manager of Commercial PCs, said the practice, which he called “visual hacking,” was a “new data security challenge” that could easily result in confidential business information being stolen from a user’s screen.
The phrase “visual hacking” comes from a recent study conducted by security research firm the Ponemon Institute, and sponsored by manufacturing giant 3M, which developed the privacy technology behind Sure View.
According to Ponemon’s “Global Visual Hacking Experiment” report, 91 per cent of the study’s 157 attempts at visual hacking were successful, with researchers stealing everything from employee and customer information, to business correspondence, to login credentials, to classified documents, to accounting information, and even training materials from participating offices.
Researchers noted that nearly four pieces of private information were visually hacked per trial, and 27 per cent of information gathered was considered sensitive.
The study also found that visual hacking can affect employee productivity, with almost 60 percent of employees taking their work outside the office due to privacy concerns, while a similar 3M-sponsored study conducted by Ponemon in 2012 found that employees utilizing a visual privacy solution could be twice as productive while working in close proximity to others – a common feature in today’s open-concept offices.
Sure View addresses the problem by using 3M technology to reduce up to 95 percent of visible light when the screen is viewed at an angle, whenever users press the F2 key.
At present, however, the feature is only available on the EliteBook 1040 or EliteBook 840. HP has not said whether it plans to bring the technology to other products, nor has it released Canadian pricing.