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3M Public Spaces Survey Results

A Public Spaces Survey by 3M reveals 9 out of 10 workers have caught someone looking at their laptops in public.
The 3M Company: 3M Privacy Filter for Widescreen Laptop.
3M Privacy Filter for Widescreen Laptop.

3M, the science-based technology company, has announced the results of its Public Spaces Survey, underlining concerns and risks around mobile working and ‘visual hacking’: in other words, being able to view sensitive or confidential data on someone’s laptop, tablet or phone.


Almost nine out of 10 mobile workers (87 per cent) said they have caught someone looking at their laptops in public spaces and 76 per cent admitted to inadvertently seeing something they should not have on someone else’s screen.  However, more than half of all interviewees admitted that they did not take any steps to protect important information while working in public.


The survey was conducted on behalf of 3M by security industry expert firm The Ponemon Institute, which conducted a series of interviews with professionals working on their laptops in public spaces.  Says Peter Barker, EMEA Market Development Manager, 3M, “People know that visual hacking is a risk, yet many are still not taking preventative actions.  However, visual privacy is one of the easiest and most cost-effective areas of mobile security to implement, simply by installing privacy filters on all screens.”


To trial a 3M privacy filter, please request a sample via this website:


Survey findings – nine reasons to take visual privacy in public more seriously

  • 87 per cent of mobile workers said they had caught someone looking at their screens in public
  • 76 per cent had inadvertently seen something on someone else’s screen
  • 51 per cent of mobile workers said they took no steps to protect information while working in public spaces
  • 77 per cent of mobile workers said they were somewhat or very concerned about visual hacking
  • 80 per cent said privacy of personal information is important or very important
  • 43 per cent are worried visual hacking could lose them their jobs
  • 23 per cent are worried about identify theft resulting from visual hacking
  • 63 per cent have a gut feeling that visual hacking is a bigger issue than most of us realise
  • 71 per cent say that looking over their shoulders to check they are not being overlooked wastes time



The researcher questioned participants who were clearly working on their laptops in public spaces, such as a café or hotel lobby; they were also screened to ensure they were genuinely working and not just using their devices for leisure purposes.


Whenever feasible, the interviewer looked at qualitative cues to determine whether or not interviewees seemed concerned that their computer screens may be seen by others and what they appeared to be doing (or not doing) to protect data from prying eyes. These cues included interviewees looking as though they were trying to keep screens out of view of others; using a privacy filters; and appearing concerned about using their laptops in crowded venues. 

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About The 3M Company

At 3M, we apply science in collaborative ways to improve lives daily. With $32 billion in sales, our 90,000 employees connect with customers all around the world. Learn more about 3M’s creative solutions to the world’s problems at or on Twitter @3M or @3MNewsroom.

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