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Keep tabs on who uses your personal computer with this simple guide

Given the sheer amount vital information we save to our personal computers every day, the need for dependable security is higher now than ever before. Web browsers like Firefox and Google Chrome may grant us the ability to save passwords and banking information with just a few clicks of the mouse, but the added convenience of not having to remember each variation of your tried-and-true password also opens up the possibility of others accessing your computer and assuming your identity.

So, what options do you have to ensure your private data stays, well, private? While the recommended, first course of action might be to set up some form of account encryption using a password, it’s not always the most effective or practical. Fortunately, employing proper surveillance software such as an activity tracker or keylogger grants you ample opportunity to keep tabs on your PC, even while you’re away. What follows is our simple guide on how to protect your computer and keep track of its daily activities.

Related: Typing trackers: the five best free keylogging tools for Windows and Mac

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Webcam security

iSpy

Perhaps the best surveillance software currently on the market, iSpy is one of the most feature-rich programs on our rundown. The program — which iSpy offers as a free download — uses your PC’s cameras, webcams, and microphones to identify both movement and sound on or around your computer. Moreover, iSpy lets you automatically track motion, or snap videos and photos, even while you’re out of the house.

After installing the program, all that stands between you and monitoring your computer is a few minutes assigning a compatible webcam and turning on motion detection. Luckily, iSpy provides a straightforward user guide to help with the initial setup and execution of the program. It even lets you save any media to a desired desktop folder, or to a cloud service such as Google Drive. You can also configure the program to send emails, texts, or tweets alerting you of any suspicious activity if you’re willing to shell out for either a monthly or yearly subscription.

iSpy Screenshots

The downside of the program is the fact it only works if you’re currently signed in to your user account, meaning the program doesn’t automatically launch on start up or on other active accounts. To combat that, simply stay logged into your account when you leave the house and launch the program in Silent Start mode, so it operates undetected. With said setup, you can rest assured your desired settings will work their magic on unsuspecting snoopers.

Skype‘s nanny cam feature

Yes, you read that correctly. The popular video chat client Skype allows users to set up a nanny cam. Well, sort of.

While not a standard Skype feature, some simple tinkering of the program’s settings — and an auxiliary Skype account — allows anyone to create their own mock nanny cam. To do this, first create a second Skype account reserved just for nanny cam duties and make sure to set it as the primary account to sign-in when Skype launches. We also recommend you change Skype’s settings so the program launches and signs into the account when your system starts up, thus ensuring Skype automatically launches even if your home computer restarts.

Note: To change Skype’s startup settings, simply log out of your current account and check the boxes beside “Sign me in when Skype starts” and “Start Skype when computer starts.” Also, make sure your nanny cam account is either already signed in when you leave the house, or is your default Skype account.

After creating your nanny cam account, log in and add your primary Skype account to its Contacts List. Afterward, click Tools and Privacy to access the privacy options for the nanny cam account before selecting the option to only receive calls from people in your Contacts List. Now go back to the Options menu, select the Calls tab, and check the boxes next to “Answer incoming calls automatically” and “Start my video automatically when I am in a call” after clicking on Show advanced options.

Once you finish configuring these settings, the nanny cam account will accept and immediately begin broadcasting video with each incoming call. Keep in mind some webcams feature an LED light, or some other notification when in use, meaning the video call may alert anyone near the computer once the call connects.

Next page: Activity trackers and keyloggers

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