What is a privacy screen protector and do you need it?

Anton P. | January 31, 2022

A privacy screen protector is an accessory combating the most low-tech type of spying. After all, not every physical environment we use our laptops or smartphones in is private.

Bystanders can deliberately or accidentally glance at your device, potentially capturing PIN code combos or other personal information. Thus, a privacy screen protector restricts viewing angles, preventing bystanders from seeing it from the sides. Thanks to its easy application, every user can apply such filters to their screens.

privacy screen protector

What is a privacy screen protector?

The shortest answer is that a privacy screen protector is a filter preventing strangers from seeing your screen.

Human instincts unwittingly guide our eyes to moving or bright objects. Imagine sitting next to someone on a train, and their phone unexpectedly buzzes. You will impulsively peek at their screen, likely reading a part of the message.

A 3M research in offices worldwide concluded that a white hat hacker visually hacked information in 91% of trials. Thus, there might be no need for fancy and sophisticated hacking techniques. All culprits need is to be in the right place at the right time.

A privacy screen protector (also known as a privacy filter) is the window blind for your laptop or smartphone. Their purpose and style of operation are similar. After all, a privacy filter only allows light to pass through certain angles. The effect of this means that people need to be right in front of the screen to see it.

This sleek technology is a must-have for stopping nosy outsiders from catching a glimpse of your life and data. A privacy screen protector lets you securely review emails or chat with your significant other on buses or busy streets.

Technical details behind privacy screen protectors

Privacy filters rely on MicroLouvre technology for the best protection. Essentially, it works like small vertical blinds blocking light and narrowing the viewing angle. If you sit directly in front of a screen, you will see all the details and data without any problem.

However, if someone tries to snoop from the sides, they will see a dark, blank screen. In theory, you can perform delicate activities without fearing that someone learns more about you than they should.

Some facts about privacy screen protectors:

  • Available on most devices. You will likely find filters suitable for various screen sizes, be it a laptop or a smartphone.
  • Traditional screen protection. Besides working as blinds, these accessories prevent scratches or other damage. It could save your smartphone from accidental bumps or drops, too.
  • Unique perks. Not all privacy screen protectors offer the same deal. Some can include more high-tech features. For instance, anti-glare coating or blue light filters are one of the possibilities. Some other convenient additions include filters for reducing eye strain. Hydrophobic and oleophobic coating make screens easier to clean.

Thus, privacy screen protectors give you similar advantages to a regular screen protector.

Less convenient facts about privacy screen protectors

Privacy screen protectors offer many privacy advantages. However, it is important to learn other factors, possibly making these products less appealing.

  • Reduced clarity and brightness. The effect of a protector might make it harder to use your device normally. A simple solution is to increase the brightness of your screen. However, the disadvantage here is that your battery will drain faster.
  • Some visual hacking remains possible. High-traffic locations do not mean that people will stand at the specific blind spots. Thus, privacy filters do not stop people standing nearby or behind you from seeing your screen.
  • Having to hold your device directly in front of you. You won’t be able to catch a quick glimpse of your devices. It might be a downside for those wishing to check current notifications or the time swiftly.
  • Showing things on your screen to others. Sometimes, you want others to look at your smartphone or computer screen. Nevertheless, the privacy screen protector forces you to keep your device at a specific angle. You can set your screen to landscape with two-way protectors and show your screen with no issues.

Picking the best privacy screen protector

  • Limited effect on accuracy. Some gadgets are better at keeping convenient brightness and clarity. Thus, read reviews from experts to ensure that the products you selected do not hinder your experience.
  • Two-way or four-way protectors. There are two options for privacy screen protectors. A two-way protector only delivers protection at certain angles when set in portrait mode. If you wish to use the device without the darkened effect, switch to the landscape setting. However, four-way filters work in both orientations. Choose depending on your preference.
  • Anti-glare coating. Such an addition reduces light reflections and allows you to see your screen even on a sunny day.
  • Blue light reduction. This feature minimizes the amount of blue light displayed on the screen. So, it can help improve sleep by preventing the light from suppressing melatonin production. Such a screen protector also decreases eye strain.
  • Other perks. A quality privacy screen protector should also include all the benefits of a traditional gadget. Go for accessories offering scratch-resistance, minimal disruptions on touch sensitivity, and coatings to reduce smudge marks.

Is a privacy screen protector enough?

Public places are perfect for visual hackers to catch a glimpse of your actions. If you are not careful, they can notice PINs or other sensitive details like your home address. Thus, a privacy screen protector is an excellent addition to your cybersecurity setup. However, you should remember several tips for making your digital routine more private.

Even if you have a privacy screen protector, avoid accessing accounts containing highly confidential details. For instance, there is nothing wrong with reading a digital book on a bus. However, accessing your online banking account in public is dangerous even if you have a privacy screen protector. It has limits, and some visual hackers can take precise positions for seeing your screen.

Furthermore, public locations offering free Wi-Fi connections are also not trusted. If you choose to connect to a free hotspot, remember to connect to a VPN beforehand. It provides the perfect blinds for covering your online traffic from potential snoopers.

Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.

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