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CIA Protects PCs From Prying Eyes

In-Q-Tel is investing in technology from Oculis that prevents visual eavesdroppers from seeing information on computer screens.

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The CIA in investing in security technology that protects PCs from so-called visual eavesdroppers in an effort to prevent key intelligence information from falling into the wrong hands.

In-Q-Tel, a CIA-based nonprofit that identifies emerging technologies to support the U.S. intelligence community, is partnering with Oculis Labs to use two of the company's technologies to protect sensitive and classified data when intelligence personnel are using mobile and desktop computers.

According to In-Q-Tel, 89% of people have admitted to reading over people's shoulders when working in a public place, which 75% of U.S. workers today do. The use of Oculis technology should help protect sensitive intelligence information from being compromised through this kind of public data leak.

Oculis PrivateEye is screen-protection technology that will blur a screen when a person walks away from a PC or turns to speak to someone that approaches. It uses facial-recognition technology to ensure that only the person authorized to use the PC can clearly see the information on it. It also alerts people if someone walks up behind them while they're working so they know information on the screen might be at risk of exposure.

The other Oculis product that In-Q-Tel is investing in, called Chameleon, is especially aimed at the government market. It protects data on a screen in a similar way but instead of blurring the data, it replaces it with gibberish that can't be read by unauthorized users that may see the screen.

J. Rylander, a partner on IQT's Investments team, said in a statement that Oculis' technologies address "a critical need in information security" to secure "the last two feet of the network ... against a wide range of insider and outsider threats."

The CIA launched In-Q-Tel in 1999 as an independent entity to find useful new technologies to support the intelligence community's mission. Technologies the venture recently invested in include cloud computing, Web analytics, secure virtualization, and infrastructure monitoring technologies.

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