HP Survey Identifies New Type of ‘Hacker’


A new HP Inc. study warns of a new type of “hacker” – those who sneakily  peak at others’ printed documents left in paper trays, and who surreptitiously look at others’ laptop and mobile-device screens, in and out of the office.

How prevalent is this? HP commissioned global market-research firm Edelman Intelligence to conduct a study across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. In August 2019, Edelman interviewed 3,000 general consumers and 1,500 office workers. In each country, Edelman interviewed 1,000 general consumers and 500 office workers.

The key findings of the study include:

  • Don’t count on privacy in the workplace – office workers “creep and peek at an alarming rate.” Four-in-five creep on their coworkers’ screens, and three-in-four peek at unclaimed documents they find left in the office printer’s paper tray.
  • Feeling somewhat paranoid, consumers don’t feel free to use their devices the way they want, with 8 in 10 admitting they restrict the content they look at in public and look at others’ screens without their knowledge.
  • Screen creeping is driven by curiosity — but for some, it goes much deeper than that. While few do so with malicious intent, one-in-five say they creep when they could gain something from it.
Unclaimed Printed Documents

The survey alarmingly indicated that when it comes to printed documents in the office, not only did 75 percent of respondents state that they looked at printed documents in paper trays, but that a whopping 40 percent admitted that when they found an unclaimed document in a paper tray, they not only looked at it, but made a copy, took a photo, or actually took the document! Another 25 percent admitted they look at printed documents in paper trays because they “learn something they’re not supposed to know.” Meanwhile, 45 percent of respondents said they “rush to the printer after printing something to prevent co-workers from seeing it.”


58 percent have seen printed documents containing personal information.

  • 43 percent have seen printed documents containing confidential information.
  • 25 percent have seen have seen printed documents containing highly personal information such as a Social Security or credit-card number.

Even more alarmingly, about half stated they would do something (take a photo, make a copy, or inform others) of documents containing bonus or salary information, or other sensitive information.

Of course, those in the printer industry know that the way to prevent all of this is through printers and MFPs that provide secure print release. With secure print release, the user specifies a PIN in the print driver before printing a job. The printer doesn’t print the job until the user authenticates themselves at the printer, locates their print job, and then enters their PIN.

Meanwhile privacy screens for laptop and PC monitors are available, and HP builds them into its laptops. These privacy screens reduce “screen creeping,” as, once installed, content on the monitor can only be viewed from the front – not from the side, deterring prying eyes.

The complete report can be found here.