Visual hacking is not hacking

visual hacking

There's hacking and then there's copying off of your neighbor's work like we had to worry about in grade school. Remember. That's not really hacking, is it?

Come on. We have now gone too far. I will admit it - I have used the word hacking in articles and article titles to draw attention. I love attending the annual Black Hat conference here in Las Vegas - it's full of the real thing, real live hackers who excel at what they do and real live security professionals who excel at what they do and were probably hackers once themselves. You know, "if you can beat 'em, join 'em and get paid well to do so."

The popularity of hacking topics has led to the word "hack" becoming part of our normal conversations and interests like "10 hacks to make your job easier" or "5 hacks to simplify your home organization process." Stuff like that.

What I can't accept is the new so-called "visual hacking" prevention terminology that 3M is throwing around. When I first read that I was thinking "please tell me that isn't the same thing that us smart kids did in 2nd grade with our arms and bodies blocking our papers while our less focused neighbor at the desk next to us tried desperately to copy our work. And rather than contact authorities about a visual data breach we just yelled, "teacher, he's copying me!"

There. Done. Can't we still do that? Besides, what is the creeper on the elevator next to us going to really see on our iPad? And are we using our iPad on the elevator? If so, what are the odds that the dude next to us gives a rat's behind about what is on our screen.

As for the actual workplace...do we care if our "neighbor" looks at our work? Isn't that called "teamwork" and "collaboration"? Those are good things, right? If we have a client sitting at our desk aren't we likely to want them to see what we are working on...for them? And if the competition is sitting there at our desk then...well...what they heck are we doing fraternizing with the competition? Stupid.

When I first saw the term "visual hacking" being thrown around in ads by 3M I really hoped against all hope that they were talking about some sort of hacking where someone was trying to remotely control your desktop and gain access to our sensitive data. But that would be data hacking - the real thing. But I feared the worst and I was right. They are referring to someone looking at your computer screen and gaining information from it and they offer a solution to help stop that in the form of a screen shield.

Today I actually got a card in the mail inviting me to meet with them at the upcoming International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) here in Las Vegas. They want to show me their visual hacking prevention technology. What do I say? How do I reply? I could say that my wife visually hacked my laptop screen and thought their concept was so lame that she laughed so hard that soda came out her nose.

Hacking. Sorry 3M. Visual hacking is not hacking. I cannot attend their presentation and keep a straight face at this point.

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