Hack Computers with Your Eyeballs

By: Robert Siciliano | November 3, 2015 (Edited July 7, 2017)

eye-computerHacking a computer with your eyeballs refers to visual hacking: unauthorized spying on what someone has on their computer screen, mentally collecting that information (or jotting it down) and then using it against that individual.

Before you label someone "paranoid" who takes seriously the threat of visual hacking, ask yourself how easy it would be for you to play visual hacker for a day.

  • Go to a public Wi-Fi spot.
  • Sit within visual range of a stranger's computer screen.
  • Pull out your binoculars and see what's on the screen-maybe you're looking just as they are typing in some login credentials.
  • Spend some time at the Internet café and see how much sensitive data you could pick off with just your eyes.

Are you too beginning to feel a little bit paranoid? No problem; 3M (the Post-it Notes company) has a solution called a privacy filter. This filter makes it impossible for snoopers to decipher what's on a computer screen from either side by darkening it. The technology is simple: The dark plastic lets out light only at a narrow angle.

HP, the maker of computers, has teamed up in the war against visual hacking. And it doesn't just happen at the coffee shop or airport lounge. Haven't you ever been next to someone on a plane who had their laptop open, who was so buried in their work that you could have stuck your nose three inches from their screen and they would have never noticed?

Think of how easy it truly is to visually hack someone ... for someone to visually hack you. A visual hacker could merely be walking by you while you're seated and glance long enough at your screen to collect personal data and jot it down.

3M's privacy screen will now be incorporated into HP's notebooks. This takes care of having to remember to bring the privacy screen with you when you work on your computer in public-or even in someone's house, where there could be a visual hacker lurking in the form of an adolescent who has too much time on their hands.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to bestcompany.com discussing identity theft prevention.


Top of Page keyboard_arrow_right

author image

Written by Robert Siciliano

Follow Robert Siciliano on Google+

Compare the top ranked companies

Find the right company for you.