Ensuring a decent level of privacy is no walk in the park, and a privacy screen for your computer can take it up a notch – here is how.
Most people think of privacy as control over personal information as it’s sent, stored, and processed online. This makes sense. Account takeovers through phishing and credential stuffing are on the rise, and we’ve seen web services of all sizes falling victim to malware-backed data breaches over the years. In all likelihood, such incidents will keep hitting the headlines indefinitely and remain a huge source of concern.
In fact, though, the concept of privacy has more overlapping dimensions. The mainstream digital-only interpretation eclipses another facet that boils down to physical foul play.
Ever heard of visual hacking, or shoulder-surfing? It’s a social engineering spin-off where someone – a colleague, a stranger in a public place, or a delivery person dropping a package in an office – takes a sneak peek at your device’s screen to try and obtain sensitive information. Believe it or not, this tactic isn’t uncommon these days and can be a stepping stone to serious privacy ramifications.
That said, your approach to maintaining privacy can make or break. If you focus on the digital and neglect the physical, you might end up on a slippery slope. One good way to strike a balance between the two is to combine the traditional online security toolkit with a privacy screen that protects your device from prying eyes.
How do privacy screens work?
The logic of a privacy screen is to limit the viewing angle of your computer’s display. This way, it’s difficult for anyone who’s not right in front of the screen to see what’s on it.
The gold standard in achieving this visual effect is what’s called micro-louver technology, which involves tiny parallel blinds that are evenly spaced and oriented to allow light through when viewed head-on. When you look at the screen from the correct angle (directly in front of it), you can see the content clearly because the micro-louvers are aligned with your line of sight.
A screen protector for laptop blocks or scatters the light when someone tries to look at the display from an angle. This makes the screen appear blacked out, distorts or blurs the image, rendering the information on it unintelligible and thus meaningless to potential snoops.
Identifying the ideal privacy screen for your computer
To reap the benefits of using a privacy filter to the fullest, you’ll need to do your homework first. The cornerstone of an informed choice is a checklist reflecting your unique criteria. This includes the type of computer you have, the screen size, the expected degree of privacy, and the environment in which you’ll be using the protector.
Start by determining the right form factor, which comes down to the type and size of your display. Browse its specifications online or peruse the documentation it came with to know the diagonal size.
This information, albeit crucial, isn’t enough. Look for a privacy screen designed for your computer model to make sure it has a precise cutout for the camera and doesn’t cover important elements (e.g., widgets) close to the edges. Here’s a good example of a MacBook Pro privacy screen worth its salt – it perfectly matches the 2021-2023 lineage of Apple’s 16-inch laptops. With the availability of model-specific products like that, you don’t have to go the extra mile in your decision-making.
Another criterion is the viewing angle – ideally, it should be anywhere between 30 to 60 degrees, depending on the brightness level. Anti-glare properties are on the plus side of a decent privacy screen, too.
It’s hugely important to ascertain that the protector is easy to install and remove. The common attachment methods you may encounter range from snap-on and adhesive strips to brackets and magnetic placement. From where I stand, the latter is optimal. If available for your computer make, it’s the most aesthetic and ensures truly hassle-free installation.
Finally, read reviews and pay attention to the track record of the privacy screen manufacturer, as well as the warranty and return policy terms. For instance, Vintez Technologies, a renowned brand in the niche, has gained a spotless reputation for its customer-centric approach and commitment to a lifetime warranty principle. They make privacy filters that fit and seamlessly attach to all screen types and sizes.
Advantages of employing a privacy filter
Protection against various forms of visual hacking in public places and at work is the overarching advantage here. It gives you confidence that your sensitive information won’t end up where it doesn’t belong, so you can work with peace of mind and showcase professionalism. These privacy properties have also come to be an element of compliance with data protection regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, CMMC, CIPA, and DFARS.
However, the rationale behind opting for a privacy filter goes beyond that. Many screen protectors have anti-glare features, making it easier to work in different lighting conditions – whether it’s a well-illuminated office or a location outdoors. They also reduce eye fatigue. As an illustration, Vintez products filter out up to 96% of ultraviolet (UV) and reduce blue light by 65%.
An extra consideration in favor of utilizing a privacy screen is that it protects your display from physical damage. Call me old-fashioned and paranoid, but I go bananas whenever someone tries to poke my MacBook’s screen with a finger. I know people are so accustomed to nearly-ubiquitous touch screens these days that the habit can take over. Yet, I’d rather keep every nook and cranny of my laptop neat, tidy, and unscratched. Especially the display. That’s where a privacy screen for MacBook can come in handy as well.
Setting up a privacy screen
As previously mentioned, there are several attachment methods across the board, and so the exact steps to set up your new privacy screen can vary accordingly.
But before you get to the installation proper, find a clean and well-lit place and make sure your computer or laptop is powered off as a precaution. Use a microfiber cloth to clean the display thoroughly. This helps ensure that the privacy screen adheres well and there’s no dust or debris trapped underneath.
Now, attach the filter according to the instructions it shipped with. If it uses adhesive tape, carefully peel off the protective film from the strips. Align the privacy screen to ascertain that it’s centered and level, gently press it onto your computer’s display from top to bottom, and smooth out any air bubbles or wrinkles if necessary.
With a bracket design, attach the brackets to the top of your monitor or laptop screen and hang it down. You may also come across filters with frameless designs that use micro-suction technology, in which case you’ll only need to align it with your screen and press it slightly. Be advised, though, that the surface has to be as clean as possible; otherwise, dust may prevent the protector from adhering well.
Some privacy screens come with magnets – that’s my favorite setup as you already know. Just align the magnets on the protector with the metal frame or bezel of your screen. And voila, that will hold it in place firmly without messy tape or adhesives.
When done, power on your computer or laptop and test the privacy screen to ensure that it functions as expected. Check from various angles to confirm that the blurring or black-out effect is working right. If your protector is adjustable, set it to your desired level of privacy.
The bottom line
In some scenarios, leveraging a privacy screen isn’t just a whim or a way to jump on a hype train. It can be a must in environments that are subject to regulatory compliance. Organizations that operate in areas such as healthcare and finance are legally obliged to safeguard customer records and other proprietary information, and visual hacking is one of the risks to such data. Privacy filters minimize the chance of someone overly curious – whether an insider or a stranger – obtaining sensitive information from literally behind your back.
Plus, this technology protects your eyes from UV and blue light exposure, reduces annoying glare in different lighting conditions, and thwarts physical damage to your screen. Definitely worth trying if you haven’t already. Just pick the privacy screen that fits your display perfectly and meets your requirements. The considerations and tips above should point you in the right direction.