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Is Your Webcam Spying on You and Your Kids?

Is Your Webcam Spying on You and Your Kids?

The COVID-19 pandemic led to millions of American adults working at home and millions of children attending school remotely. As a result, we are increasingly relying on our computers, and internal or external webcams, for everything from attending work meetings and doctor visits to attending classes.

But as much as webcams have helped make managing our careers and our children’s education easier during these unprecedented times, they have also exposed us to a world of hidden webcam dangers.  

The Risks of School-Issued Laptops

For today’s students, having a laptop or personal computer has become a necessity. Even before the pandemic forced us to shelter in place, students were using laptops to meet their basic homework requirements. For families that couldn’t afford to purchase laptops at new retail prices, they were often able to buy them from their school at a reduced price or, in some cases, the school even provided them for free. 

The problem with school-issued laptops is that these devices often come loaded with software and programs that are designed to spy on the user. In many cases, the webcam can be turned on remotely and data automatically sent to the cloud, without the user even being made aware this is happening. Reports of hackers accessing school laptops and contacting children have already surfaced.

Sometimes the schools themselves install this spyware to monitor student activity, such as tracking what websites they visit and seeing how much time they are spending on their assignments. This not only raises ethical questions but also increases the risk of having your child’s private data stolen.  

How to Check Your Laptop for Spyware

Fortunately, there’s an easy way you can check your laptop to see if your child’s school has installed spyware on it, and you don’t need to be an engineer or IT person to do it.

  • Step 1: Click on the search bar on your computer’s taskbar and type Msconfig and click System Configuration. 
  • Step 2: Click the Startup tab and then click Open Task Manager. 
  • Step 3: If you see any suspicious program or software in the Task Manager that’s using a high percentage of the computer’s memory, terminate its processes temporarily. 
  • Step 4: Run a search for the program online to find out if it is malicious. If you discover it is spyware or some other type of malicious program, uninstall it.
  • Step 5: Run an anti-spyware scan.

How to Protect Your Family from Webcam Dangers and School-Sponsored Spyware

One thing you can do to stop spyware in its tracks is to use a hardware filter like Winston. The Winston device automatically protects every device connected to your home network. This includes your computers, smartphones, tablets, and IoT devices. Once it’s turned on, Winston blocks spyware, malware, online ads, and adult content while also scrambling your IP address to avoid trackers from detecting your exact location. This article has steps you can take to prevent browsers from leaking your IP address to web conferencing platforms. With Winston, your family is safe and protected from webcam dangers as well as identity theft and other threats.

Another thing you should do is ask the school what data they are collecting on your child. Ask them how the data will be used, and what happens to the information when the school year ends. If they say that the laptops are cleared after the end of the school year, this alone is probably not enough to ensure that the data isn’t still accessible. 

Currently, only California, Colorado, and Connecticut have legislation in place that protects the privacy of children and their families in regards to school-issued computers. To help protect your family, contact your state legislators and demand that they do the same in your state.

Don’t Risk It – Try Winston Today and Protect Your Family

Unlike traditional VPN software, Winston is a stand-alone, plug-and-play device that scrambles your IP address so hackers and trackers can’t match you with it while protecting all the devices on your network - even those you can’t install software on (such as smart TVs and cameras).  It also features powerful anti-spyware and anti-malware protection, as well as sophisticated built-in ad-blocking technology. With Winston connected to your network, you’ll experience faster browsing as Winston blocks out all the junk enabling webpages to load up to 60 times faster than they do with a software VPN! 

With Winston, you can finally enjoy the Internet the way it is meant to be – private and safe.  And, there’s no risk – try Winston today and if you’re not satisfied, you can return it within 30 days for a full refund. If your school-issued laptop has preinstalled spyware on it, don’t risk your child’s privacy another day. Get Winston now!