HP Embeds Privacy Screen in Laptops

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One of those dirty little compliance secrets is that whenever a business executive or government employee whips out a laptop in a public space, they more often than not are looking at sensitive data. Because of the way laptop screens are designed, anyone sitting or standing to the left or right of them can easily see what they are looking at.

To minimize that issue, some organizations give end users “privacy screens” that cut the angle at which a laptop screen can be viewed by redirecting how the light from the laptop screen is disseminated.

The trouble is that each of these screens, which typically cost about $30 a piece, consist of nothing more than a film of plastic layered on top of the laptop. In a short period of time, the plastic film starts to warp at the edges. This week, HP Inc,. in partnership with 3M, unveiled a more sophisticated approach to the problem.

HP Sure View is a new integrated feature of the HP EliteBook 1040 and EliteBook 840 laptops that helps protect against visual hacking with the press of a single button. The privacy mode blocks all the light from the screen from being seen by anyone other than the primary user of the device.


Mike Nash, vice president of customer experience and portfolio strategy for HP, says HP began working on this “visual hacking” issue in response to concerns organizations have about sensitive data being displayed on laptops in cafes and passenger planes.

“The issue stems from the way screens on laptops make use of backlighting to make the screen more visible,” says Nash. “It costs about $75 more to have a laptop with the privacy screen embedded.”

Naturally, it’s hard to quantify just how rampant visual hacking is. But just about everybody at this point has seen something on another person’s screen that they probably shouldn’t have. In most of those cases, an ounce of prevention is likely to have been worth much more than a pound of compliance cure later on.