Peeping Toms no longer spend their time prowling around in the bushes outside of houses. They’re at their computers hacking into webcams and using them to remotely watch people completely unaware. If this scares you as a parent – because your teen probably has their laptop open in their bedroom right now – you’re not alone. Here are 4 ways to protect your kids from the unthinkable happening to them.
1. Cover the lens.
Whenever your child isn’t actively using the webcam, teach them to habitually unplug it or cover the lens. This is the cheapest and easiest common-sense solution to end spying; it’s akin to pulling down your bedroom shades at night. The hardest part is establishing the habit, but after a while it will become second nature to your child.
2. Close the computer when not in use.
Don’t let your child walk away from a laptop without closing the cover, especially in their bedroom. Always close a laptop after use, or power down a desktop computer. After gaining access to a computer, whenever it is powered up hackers can remotely turn on the webcam to spy.
3. Don’t click on suspicious links.
Most often, hackers gain access to someone’s computer by tricking them into downloading a file with malware. Teach your child not to click on links in spam emails or strange-sounding emails coming from the address of someone they know. Don’t open e-cards from unkown senders or click random “watch this awesome video!” posts on Facebook from strangers. Avoid visiting adult websites, clicking pop-ups, or downloading pirated music, games, or movies.
4. Update your child’s anti-virus software.
Install and regularly update the anti-virus software on your child’s computer. Anti-virus software adds an extra layer of protection in case your child ever does click on a hacker’s link containing malware. Some parents forget to keep the software on their child’s devices current, so make it a priority to perform regular updates for their safety’s sake.
Thinking about someone spying on your children with their webcam, taking pictures of them, and possibly disseminating those pictures over the Internet without their consent, makes any parent anxious. The good news is that there are many things you can do to reduce the likelihood of a hacker gaining access to your child’s computer, and other things you can do to protect your child’s privacy and safety in case their computer is ever compromised.
Tim Woda is a passionate advocate for protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers – cyberbullying, sexting and online predators. He is the co-founder of uKnow.com, developers of uKnowKids.