You can hack a PC just by looking at it, say 3M and HP

Thankfully these plastic shields stop data penetrating the retina-consciousness interface


Top security minds at HP have discovered that if you look at a PC, you can read what's on its screen. And if you're not the intended reader of that screen, it constitutes “visual hacking”, a terrifying menace that Must Be Stopped.

The good news is it Can Be Stopped With This One Amazing Sheet Of Plastic, aka a 3M “Privacy Filter”.

Post-It prince 3M has made these filters for years, pitching them as “screen darkening technology that protects your screen from prying eyes on either side.” They're basically dark plastic that doesn't let out light on a wide angle. 3M's used the “visual hacking” jargon to promote the plastic shields, too.

HP's now decided it likes that kind of talk, because as the news of the alliance with 3M states, “With more and more PCs being used in public places, visual hacking - the act of collecting confidential information by looking at someone else's screen - is a paramount security risk.”

3M and HP commissioned research done that "discovered" visual hacking is very often successful, with photons emitted by computer displays proven to sail through all security measures and successfully transmit data through the retina/brain barrier and into human consciousnesses. So potent is visual hacking that it apparently succeeds in over 90 per cent of cases when visual hackers ply their dark art by sneaking up behind someone, opening their eyes and looking at a screen. Or "mal-looking" as it may one day come to be known.

The two companies have therefore pledged a collaboration to “integrate 3M privacy screens into HP's security-focused, award-winning notebook PCs” to create an “an on demand electronic privacy solution.”

Your correspondent imagines that means some 3M plastic will be fused onto future HP lappies. Which will certainly improve the defence posture of those who do a spot of work in public, and also have the unintended consequence of making it harder to gather around a PC to check out that really funny new thing on YouTube. The latter scenario, we imagine, could deliver at least an equal benefit to business by disrupting the flow of unauthorised mirth-making particles in the workplace. ®

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