May 05, 2009 08:02 ET

Confidential Information at Risk as Shoulder Surfers Take a Look

Former CIA agent Lindsay Moran offers privacy tips for travellers and road warriors

LONDON, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 5, 2009) -

Editors Note: There are three photos and three video associated with this press release.

Attention: Business, Travel, Lifestyle, General Assignment

It's an irresistible urge. The act of looking at someone else's work in a public place, or what is popularly known as shoulder surfing. And Canadian business travellers are especially guilty. A recent survey by Angus Reid shows that 63 per cent of Canadian business travellers admit to having sneaked a peek at a stranger's work in a public place.

Privacy is even more of a concern these days as technology has given many business professionals the ability to work remotely, which increases the risk of sensitive and confidential information being seen by nosy neighbours. In fact, of the 73 per cent of business travellers who say they have worked on a laptop, PDA or Blackberry in a public place, half say they have worked on confidential or sensitive information.

"You'd be surprised by how easy it is to gather information in a public space like an airport," says Lindsay Moran, former CIA Agent and author of Blowing My Cover, My Life as a CIA Spy. "People are so absorbed in their work that you can easily sit next to someone in the waiting lounge or behind them on the plane and watch everything they do on their laptop or Blackberry."

Under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), every organization is responsible for protecting privacy, in part by using appropriate safeguards.

"There are a few simple steps travellers can take to help keep their content away from prying eyes," says Moran. "Pay attention to your surroundings, avoid having private conversations on your cell in public areas and use a privacy filter on your laptop which obscures your computer screen from both professional and amateur snoops, not to mention the busybody seated next to you."

Commissioned by 3M Privacy Filters, the survey also revealed:

- Roughly half of business travellers admit they are not always aware of their surroundings when working in a public place

- Two-out-of-five business travellers have caught somebody else looking at their work before

- One-third of business travellers access personal information, that can be used for identity theft, when working on their laptop, PDA or Blackberry in a public place

Some tips for business travellers from Lindsay Moran:

- Invest in luggage tags for checked bags and carry-ons that shield your name and address from potential prying eyes

- Whether you're networking online, answering emails or creating documents, a privacy filter is essential when you're using your laptop in public. 3M Privacy Filters help prevent wandering eyes from viewing your confidential information

- The practice of scrambling data on your hard drive is standard among intelligence professionals. The layer of security encryption requires a password - sometimes a series of them - to open programs or documents, and there are many free encryption programs you can download from the Internet

- No matter what browser you are using to surf the Internet, it takes only a few seconds to reset it or empty the cache (usually located in the "preferences" or "options" menu)

For more information about how to protect your privacy and for more privacy tips from Lindsay Moran, visit www.3mprivacyfilters.ca.

About 3M Privacy Filters

3M Privacy Filters are made with patented micro-louvre technology that allow only the user in front of the monitor to view the content. When viewed on an angle, potential prying eyes will only see a black screen. In addition to keeping content safe, the filters also reduce screen glare and offer an additional physical layer of protection for the screen itself. Available in a variety of sizes, 3M Privacy Filters can be used on computer monitors, laptops and new to market, for mobile devices such as PDAs and Blackberry devices. For more information about where to purchase a privacy filter, visit www.3mprivacyfilters.ca.

About 3M

A recognized leader in research and development, 3M produces thousands of innovative products for dozens of diverse markets. 3M's core strength is applying its more than 40 distinct technology platforms - often in combination - to a wide array of customer needs. With $24 billion in sales, 3M employs 79,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 60 countries.

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