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Child predators using webcams to target kids | News | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #hacking | #aihp

WISCONSIN — (WAOW) Odds are you’ve used your webcam a lot since the pandemic, and it’s great for meetings or catching up with family, but this same tech is something online predators can use to exploit your kids. 

C. Jordan Howell is a professor of cybercrime at the University of South Florida, and says that one wrong click could expose your child figurative, and literally, to predators.

Howell said, “Anyone with a computer and the application could easily embed this code, which is provided by Whereby, to access a camera, record a child without their knowledge, and essential produce and distribute child pornography.”

Here’s how it works: would-be predators try to get your kids to click on a link, which would download a program and let them take over your webcam. That’s why Howell and his team go undercover, using chatbots to pretend to be kids themselves to expose the crime.

Howell said, “We wouldn’t continue the conversation unless the identified immediately as being over the age of 18, so everyone we chatted with was someone at least 18 years of age or older, who was willingly and knowingly in a conversation with a 13 year-old on a chat room.”

Captain Ben Graham with the Wausau Police Department says it’s important parents stay vigilant and set boundaries online. Graham said, “Probably best not to have the computer in the bedroom. Don’t allow your children to take their cellphones into their rooms at night.”

So what can you do? Talk with your kids about not clicking on strange links or downloads, as well as which websites are safe and which aren’t. 

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