Where is your work desk?
For some, it’s in an office. For others, it’s a nomadic concept. And still others might say the coffee shop down the street.
More and more employers are giving their workers the opportunity to own their workplace experience. According to a study by Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs, there was a 159% increase in remote work from 2005 to 2017. In fact, almost three quarters of today’s workforce consider a flexible working environment the “new normal.”
However, as physical workplaces change, data security and privacy strategies must change, as well. More employee mobility makes physical threats like visual hacking – when sensitive information is captured simply by looking at another’s screen – more prevalent. In the era of complex data hacks and firewalls, it may be easy to overlook the importance of physical security strategies but consider this: the Global Visual Hacking Experiment demonstrated that visual hacking resulted in a 91% success rate and nearly half of the incidents occurred in 15 minutes or less. If you work an 8-hour workday in an open or public place, that’s a lot of sensitive data at risk.
As you seek to own your work space, don’t forget the importance of owning your privacy. Here are three strategies you can take to own your physical privacy as the workplace evolves.
1. Adopt a Clean-Desk Policy – All Day Long
A clean-desk policy typically refers to a rule that all employees must have devices logged off and confidential materials put away at the end of a shift. To put yourself in the best security situation, though, why not adhere to this rule throughout the day? Whenever you are not physically in front of your computer, keep the screen locked.
For workers in an office, this is a best-practice. For remote workers, this is an absolute necessity. It only takes seconds for a person to take a photo of an open screen, insert a USB drive with malware or gather confidential information like login credentials just by glancing at a screen. Remote workers in a public area don’t have the luxury of assuming good intentions of their “co-workers.” The simple act of locking away data can keep your customers, your company and yourself safe.
2. Use Physical Privacy Tools
One way to combat the threat of visual hacking while continuing to work is by using a privacy filter. A simple solution, privacy filters protect what is displayed on a screen by blocking unauthorized side views. Given the high success rate of visual hacking, this is a particularly useful tool for remote workers in crowded public areas or during business travel. To facilitate collaboration with others in open workspaces, consider using a 3M™ Privacy Filter™ with the new 3M™ COMPLY™ Attachment System. Attachments like these allow you to flip your privacy filter to personalize your privacy experience.
Other physical privacy tools to consider are laptop or briefcase alarms to prevent snatch-and-grab incidents or the loss of data if you’ve already lost a device.
3. Be Educated on Security Procedures – and Follow Them
Employees are the first line of defense when it comes to data security and privacy. A well-educated employee will be one of the best assets in keeping a company’s data secure. However, human error is also the weakest link in an otherwise strong data-security program.
To keep data safe, educate yourself on best practices and learn your company’s policies on having visitors in the office. Maintain situational awareness and be aware of your surroundings. While this may seem more applicable to remote working, office workers must understand this, too. Visual hacks generally go unchallenged. The Global Visual Hacking Experiment revealed that in 68% of cases, the white-hat hacker was not stopped by employees. While being polite is a value that many of us share, it’s important not to put data at risk in service of good manners. Maintaining a culture that is welcoming – yet cautious – should be the goal.
While the evolution of the workplace is facilitating more dynamic, expansive ways of working, it is also exposing companies to more security risks than ever before. For employees who are in the office, foot traffic is high and walls are low. For remote workers, more prying eyeballs mean data is at an even higher risk. Ironically, today’s personalized workplaces are anything but personal. On Data Privacy Day this year, make sure you understand how to own your workplace and protect your privacy.
About the Author
Jessica Walton is the Global Business Manager of the Display Materials & Systems Division at 3M, where she leads business strategy and marketing operations for 3M’s enterprise products portfolio, including privacy filters. Her 20+ years of experience includes product commercialization, customer segmentation, pricing, forecasting and global brand strategy.