When people think of cybercrimes, they think of things like phishing, firewalls, security encryption, and ransomware. These are all reasonable concerns, but one aspect of cybercrimes that often goes unremembered is “visual hacking.” 

Visual hacking is exactly what it sounds like: malicious actors spotting confidential information on a screen and memorizing or recording it for illicit use later on. This is especially troubling in the healthcare sector, where healthcare workers are often too busy to check if someone’s peeking over their shoulder and where private health data is full of information valuable for criminals. 

Fortunately, there is a solution to block such prying eyes: privacy screens that filter out light from certain angles, preventing visual hacking from ever occurring. 

What is a Privacy Screen?

A privacy screen, or privacy filter, is a thin layer of polarized plastic that reduces the viewing angle of the screen it is attached to. Someone facing the screen from head-on can view the information on the screen just fine, but anyone standing off to the side will only see a blank field of black. 

When it comes to screen privacy, there are certain best practices that can be followed. Using partitions whenever possible and keeping screens out of public view are good ideas in theory, but hospital wards are frequently too crowded and busy to make these solutions practical. However, a privacy screen that attaches or is applied directly to the monitor sidesteps this issue. 

Privacy screens are made from advanced plastics, usually polycarbonate or acrylic, combining an anti-glare coating with angled slats or panels in the plastic’s structure. This allows light to pass through the plastic layer from a certain angle but not from others. With no light, outside observers cannot see the screen’s contents and thus see only a black field. 

How Can Privacy Screens Be Installed?

There are several different methods for adding a privacy filter to computers. 

  • Attachable filters can be put on or taken off as employees need. These are helpful if employees frequently collaborate and more than one person will try to look at the screen simultaneously. 
  • Permanent adhesives can be used to permanently attach a filter to the monitor in question. These are typically used on monitors that require extra protection at all times, such as medical-grade computers that constantly display sensitive information. 

Privacy Screens For Medical Computers

However, there is one major concern for using privacy screens in healthcare environments. Hospitals must constantly disinfect every surface, including the monitors of their computers, to prevent the spread of germs. 

Unfortunately, these disinfectants are extremely harsh chemicals and can damage or destroy the delicate plastic structures of the privacy filter, rendering it useless. Therefore, the best way to implement a privacy filter on a medical-grade computer or tablet is to place it inside the monitor, on the other side of the glass. 

This makes it a permanent fixture but completely protects the filter from disinfectants. Remember, a medical-grade computer will have an IP (ingress protection) rating of at least 65, indicating it is dust-sealed and waterproof. This means that the privacy screen and the rest of the computer’s internal components will be protected no matter how much the computer’s monitor is cleaned. 

Final Considerations For Privacy Screens

There are two final aspects to consider when integrating a privacy screen on your medical tablet or computer.

  • Viewing angle: This determines how broad an angle the screen’s contents are still visible. For most users, the default is 60 degrees. This gives the computer’s user a bit of leeway but obscures any would-be prying eyes. 
  • Minimal effect on user experience: A good privacy screen shouldn’t affect the display’s quality. This is especially important in medical environments, which rely on spotting small details in the diagnostic or imaging stages of treatment. 

Closing Thoughts

With the threat of cybercrimes ever more prevalent in the healthcare sector, healthcare groups must take whatever steps they can to protect the private health data of their patients. Fortunately, implementing privacy filters is one of the easiest ways to prevent one of the most common sources of data breaches. 

If you’re curious about adding medical-grade computers with integrated privacy filters to your operation, contact the team at Cybernet Manufacturing. Our experience as an original equipment manufacturer allows us to add integrated privacy screens during manufacturing and assembly, giving you peace of mind during operations. 

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