Visual hacking is simply someone looking at someone else’s computer screen.

Businesses who put a lot of resources into protecting sensitive information using antiviruses, passwords, and biometrics, can often overlook the easiest and most low-tech form of theft, and that is someone stealing a glance at your computer screen.

You may be vulnerable to visual hacking, but you’re not helpless. There is something you can do right now to protect your personal and confidential information.

Visual hacking is now preventable, and recent innovations can help you protect your on-screen data from prying eyes.

Explaining Visual Hacking

Visual hacking can be defined as the act of capturing or viewing confidential, sensitive, or private information for unauthorized use (the members of Quora offers this definition).

Unfortunately, visual hacking is a very common occurrence. Your confidential information could be visually hacked from a PC or other electronic device, or it could be hacked from information contained on a paper document left in a print tray, on your desk, or even at your local coffee shop.

We’ve all been in the situation where we’ve inadvertently glanced at someone’s computer screen, then realised we saw something we weren’t meant to see: it may have been during a work session with a colleague, or even a casual evening with family or friends when they were shopping online, surfing social media, or handling personal information.

But visual hacking involving sensitive information and criminal intent is not just a transgression or simple annoyance – the stealing of personal information can quickly become a very serious and costly problem.

How Dangerous Is Visual Hacking?

The answer is, very dangerous! It takes only one piece of information to leave a company exposed to a data breach, and this can cost companies millions of dollars in legal expenses, regulatory fines, and more importantly, lost business.

The figures are staggering: last year in the United States the average annual cost of cyber-crime was $15.4 million per corporation.

Visual Hacking Has a Very High Success Rate

A Privacy Advisory group recently conducted a visual hacking experiment, which showed that visual hacking attempts were successful 90% of the time.

In each trial, nearly 4 pieces of private information were visually hacked. And it’s quick! 45% of the time the hacker took less than 15 minutes to complete their first visual hack.

Today, because of the shift towards open workspaces, the risk of visual hacking is increasing. Compared with traditional office layouts, in workspaces where cubicles and walls have been removed, there was a 50% increase in information being visually hacked. And, given that almost 60% of employees take their work outside office walls, visual hacking can impact employee productivity.

In another study, it was revealed that employees who use a visual privacy solution are twice as productive when working in close proximity to others.

Are You Vulnerable?

The short answer to this question is – yes you are! If you handle or access sensitive information, you are vulnerable to visual hacking.

According to researchers, visual hacking has become a pervasive problem that occurs at all levels of an organization and in all industry sectors, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re an intern or a C suite executive.

Protecting Your Sensitive Information

The following advice will help protect your personal and confidential information

Step 1:
Assess your situation prior to accessing sensitive information, just to see if you’re in a vulnerable situation. Consider relocating to a more private space if you’re currently in a crowded area, like an airplane or coffee shop; or alternatively, work on something else until you become less exposed.

Step 2:
Develop a visual privacy strategy. Talk to senior management with a view to prevention training and implementing organization-wide awareness of visual hacking.

Step 3:
Determine whether visitors, employees, and/or contractors have easy access to sensitive information in both workspaces and off-site locations. If there is a vulnerability, consider setting up internal firewalls or block off office sections from non-department members and visitors.

Step 4:
Invest in products proven to protect your personal and confidential information. A privacy filter screen can protect your private data. You can buy filter for monitors, laptops, and Macbooks. Our privacy filters are affordable and of great quality.

It’s Time to Act!

Visual hacking is a very real threat to both individuals and businesses; however, with awareness and the right security tools, your sensitive information can be effectively safeguarded against prying eyes. Remember that your security is only as strong as its weakest link!

Take action now as suggested by experts, and establish a secure visual privacy strategy to protect your private information.