How To Protect Your Laptop From Prying Eyes With a Privacy Filter
by Berislav Kucan - Monday, 12 May 2008.
While attending the RSA Conference show last month in San Francisco, we met a lot of people and talked with a number of companies. We brought home a large list of gadgets, mainly different security-centric USB devices. Besides these USB keys, I was really keen into testing a 3M Privacy Filter which was supplied by fine folks at the 3M stand. 3M Privacy Filters help block the screen view from anyone viewing the computer from a side view. Their unique microlouver privacy technology allows just persons directly in front of the computer to see on screen data clearly.



I got a 3M Privacy Filter for a 17" notebook and my primary "travel computer" is a MacBook. Besides this, on the second day of the event I got myself a new Asus Eee, so my first thought would be to "migrate" the 17" privacy filter to my new 7" screen.



I was quite familiar with 3M Privacy Filters since one of the previous visits to the RSA Conference and I can say they work like a charm. As you will see from the photos in the rest of this article, when you move yourself around the computer powered by a Privacy Filter you will really have a tough time trying to do shoulder surfing.

The box contains a Privacy Filter, a very light and thin piece of plastic and eight tabs which are used for attaching the filter to the notebook (or regular PC - 3M covers that as well).



ASUS has a small screen, so I had to cut the 3M Privacy Filter to fit it perfectly. After some slight calculations I decided to cut it like this:
7.85 inches (20 cm) width x 3.86 inches (9.8 cm) height.
This way the filter goes in front of the speakers but mounts perfectly. From my experience the best way to cut the filter is to use very sharp scissors.



Out of the 8 tabs available I chose to use the four presented on the picture below. The two wide ones go vertically just after the speakers end and the two smaller tabs go below the screen.



The tabs have their own glue on them, so you just need to place them at the best possible postion. I did it this way:



As you can see from the photo above, when you look directly at the screen the picture is absolutely clear. Let's move just a bit to the right and you see the Privacy Filter talking its effect:



If someone is sitting next to you, he will see just some rough sketch of what is provided on the screen. And that is if he explicitly tries to get a sneak peak.



3M Privacy Filters show their biggest strenght in the situation where for instance you are working on your computer and someone walks near by and tries to look at your screen. Look at the following examples.

View of the Asus Eee without the 3M Privacy Filter:



View of the Asus Eee with the mounted 3M Privacy Filter:



As you can see, these filters really do make a difference. I am traveling in 4 days and the custom resized 3M Privacy Filter will definitely be of a good use while working on my Eee in the airport lounge waiting for a connecting flight to Dubai.

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