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HP Survey highlights webcam security and privacy behaviors

Paranoia puts life on hold according to 74 percent of Americans

July 17, 2019

Survey Highlights:

  • Awareness of webcam hacking is high, with 79 percent of US respondents understanding their privacy could be compromised via their laptop’s webcam1.
  • Webcam paranoia puts life on pause, as most feel they can’t be themselves while in view of their webcam – with 59 percent of individuals taking steps to cover their laptop webcam2.
  • Women feel significantly more vulnerable concerning their privacy being comprised via their laptop webcam.
  • More than 8 in 10 respondents believe laptop manufactures should make it easier to turn off a laptop’s webcam3, like the easy-to-use webcam kill switch solution by HP.


PALO ALTO, Calif., July 17, 2019 — HP Inc. today released the results of a unique study4 that works to better understand the level of awareness associated with webcam hacking and how consumers changed their behavior as a result.

The concern around webcam privacy has permeated into pop culture, from headline grabbing images of well-known figures covering their webcams with post-its to storyline arcs in popular TV shows. To  uncoverTo uncover how people associate webcam usage with their day-to-day, HP commissioned a survey of approximately 3,000 individuals across North America, including 1,000 US consumers that own a laptop with an internal webcam.

Based on the US results of the survey, 8 in 10 consumers are aware privacy can be comprised via their laptop webcam5, and more than 6 in 10 consumers are actually concerned that their privacy will be compromised6. How respondents heard about webcam hacking is equally fascinating7; among US respondents, 43 percent learned about webcam hacking through social media, with 40 percent via a movie or television show. And webcam hacking is also a topic of conversation among friends and family, with 38 percent of respondents hearing about webcam hacking via word of mouth8. Equally shocking, 1 in 10 respondents either know someone whose webcam was hacked or have themselves been hacked via their webcam9.

Less than half of consumers feel comfortable leaving their laptop open – with highest levels of discomfort in more intimate activities, including using the bathroom (81 percent), being intimate (80 percent) and sleeping (63 percent). Even more casual and mundane activities had a large degree of discomfort, from crying (64 percent), working out (55 percent), to eating dinner (46 percent)10.

Because of this discomfort, 3 in 4 respondents said if they were in view of their laptop’s webcam they would either turn it off, cover it, or close their laptop to get out of view11. And 6 in 10 respondents physically cover their laptop’s webcam to feel more secure or prevent it from being compromised, using everything from tape (46 percent), or a sticky note (35 percent), to a bandage (8 percent), or even a piece of gum (2 percent)12.

However, while knowledge and concern around webcam hacking affects all generations equally, awareness doesn’t always equate to action. For example, 80 percent of Baby Boomers are aware of the issue of webcam hacking, but only 49 percent have covered their webcams to feel more secure13.

The issue of webcam hacking also varies by gender, with women feeling significantly more vulnerable (67 percent of women vs. 59 percent of men) concerning their privacy being comprised via their laptop webcam14.

There are even differences regionally on the use of and concerns around laptop webcams. While only one in 10 US and Canadian respondents knew someone or themselves experienced laptop webcam hacking, that number jumped to one in 5 in Mexico15. Mexico also experienced higher levels of discomfort doing activities in view of a webcam. For more information on study breakouts by country, view the Webcam Survey Country Fact Sheet here.

Finally, more than 8 in 10 consumers believe laptop manufacturers should make it easier to turn off a laptop’s webcam16. Nearly half of respondents believe it takes too much effort to turn off a webcam in a laptop’s settings17, and 79 percent wish they could turn it off with the flip of a switch18, similar to the HP webcam kill switch feature found on new HP Spectre and HP ENVY laptops, to help life move without interruption and give people peace of mind to be themselves.

To learn more about the study conducted by HP, including infographics, hi-res images, b-roll, and in-depth fact sheet with detailed findings, visit the HP Webcam Survey Press Kit at the HP Press Center. To learn more about PCs with HP’s webcam kill switch feature, click here.

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