Your Undies are Showing

Ok, so the title of this post may lack any reference to cyber security.  However, there is an analogy to be made here if I may beg your indulgence for a moment.

Most of us grew up hearing this term from our mothers a time or two whereas we needed to adjust ourselves to a more respectable state where our undies no longer showed outside our clothes.  Being always on the lookout for an opening line to meet a new person, this one came to me while getting off a plane.

On a flight to DC, a lady in the row in front of me worked on her laptop for most of the flight.  The seats in first class have quite a gap between them so it was trivial to see what was on her screen.  Not that I make it a habit to read other people’s business, but it does draw my attention to it because I continue to be amazed at how few people take the simplest precautions when using their laptop or tablet in public.  The screen clearly had client account data on it and would have been potentially useful information to the right party.

As we exited the Jetway at DCA, and feeling a little bold, I drummed up the nerve to try this line as a conversation starter.  After “excuse me'”  I asked the lady if she ever heard the phrase “your undies are showing?”  After a momentary look of horror in her face, I quickly smiled and assured her that she could relax because that was not really what I was referring to.  Then, explaining what I do for a living, I suggested that she consider an inexpensive privacy screen for her laptop and that anyone could easily shoulder surf and see everything on her display.

Lucky for me, I did not get myself slapped and the suggestion was well received.  Whew!  This lady had no idea and had never thought about such a thing.  (Makes me wonder about her employer’s security awareness training.)

Information thieves go for the low hanging fruit and a walk through any airport or public place where people use their screens easily yields interesting information we would rather keep private.  The sad reality here is that simple solutions are inexpensive, if we only use them.  Forget about encryption, two-factor authentication, strong passwords and the like.  Can we start with covering up the private information on our screen?

Think about it for a moment the next time you or your employees use their laptop or tablet in public.  Are your “undies” showing by not using a privacy protector for you screen?


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