Who’s that looking over your shoulder? If you’re a federal employee working on classified information on your computer, you just might have a problem.
Fully 82 percent of government workers are unprotected from computer monitor Peeping Toms, according to a recent study.
Data privacy software provider Oculis Labs randomly surveyed 104 people on privacy risks for mobile workers at this year’s FOSE conference in Washington. Forty percent of those surveyed worked for the federal government; 30 percent were government contractors; ten percent were in state or local government; five percent were in the military; 14 percent were in commercial industry and one percent was self-employed or other.
Almost all of those surveyed – 98 percent — said privacy was important to them. Sixty-two percent often were concerned about others looking at their displays. Ironically, and perhaps unsurprisingly, 63 percent admitted to regularly looking at others’ monitors.
Sixty percent of respondents use their computers in public places to view a variety of sensitive information. The top four types of sensitive data accessed in public were: financial/credit card data (57 percent); classified and For Official Use Only (FOUO) information (47 percent); personal information, including social security numbers, medical records and human resources data (44 percent); and proprietary/trade secret information (18 percent).
Only 18 percent of respondents use some form of screen protection, either a plastic filter (15 percent) or software (three percent).
“Preventing data leakage is a high priority for government and yet one of the easiest access points, the computer screen, is overlooked,” said Bill Anderson, CEO, Oculis Labs. “Traditional tools for protecting screens are the ever-unpopular plastic privacy filters, but even if used they are ineffective at stopping a breach. All it takes is a direct view from behind the user to leak the data.”
Seventy-nine percent of respondents were male and 47 percent were in IT. Would the results have been different if more women and less IT people were polled? Who knows, although results were similar to a survey the company did in late 2011 of mobile workers in the private sector.