If you're worried someone might be watching through your webcam, you're not alone: Seventy-nine percent of US consumers are aware their privacy could be compromised via their laptop webcams.
The data comes from a survey commissioned by HP, which sought to learn how people associate webcam privacy in their day-to-day lives. Researchers polled approximately 3,000 people across North America, 1,000 of whom own a laptop with an internal webcam. Three-quarters say if in view of their webcams, they turn them off, cover them, or close their machines to get out of view.
Nearly 60% of consumers physically cover their webcams, though some are more creative than others: Forty-three percent use tape, 35% place a sticky note, 8% use a bandage, and 2% use ... a piece of gum.
Awareness and concern around webcam compromise vary by age and gender, researchers found. Eighty percent of Baby Boomers are aware of the issue, but only 49% have covered their webcams to feel more secure. Women feel much more vulnerable than men: Sixty-seven percent of female respondents are worried about webcam privacy, compared with 59% of male participants.
How did webcam spying become a common fear? Most (43%) respondents learned about it through social media, 40% through a movie or television show, and 38% by word of mouth. One in 10 has either had their own webcam compromised or knows someone else who has.
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