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Windows security: A new way to see what’s accessing your PC’s mic and camera

Has this happened to you? You’re out chatting with friends and later your phone displays ads for whatever you were talking about. It’s always creepy, no matter how many times it’s happened.

While there’s no concrete evidence that your phone’s microphone is always listening, it helps to know when it is. Tap or click here to find out when your phone’s camera or mic is being used and how to put a stop to it.

Windows 11 has added a new privacy feature that shows when apps are accessing your computer’s microphone and camera as well as your sensitive data. PC owners rejoice! Knowledge is power, and it’s always good to know what’s watching and listening.

Coming soon to Windows 11

With so many people working remotely, our cameras and microphones are always primed and ready. When the meeting’s over, they should stop being accessible, right? Well, that’s not always the case. Some apps access these devices without giving any notification — and this is obviously a huge privacy concern.

If you use a PC that runs Windows 11, you’ll soon be able to see the history of your applications’ access to devices such as your microphone or camera. You’ll also see if and when sensitive data like your contacts, location, phone calls, messaging and screenshots were accessed in the last week.

BleepingComputer spotted the update in one of the June Windows 11 Preview Builds.

Once the feature is live, you’ll go to Settings > Privacy & security > App permissions and select the Recent activity dropdown menu. From there, you will be able to see the time and date that each app accessed your computer’s devices and information.

It’s not always apps you’re using on purpose that access your info. If a malicious app or malware is spying through your camera or microphone or accessing your contacts, you’ll see file paths, process names or process IDs to help you nail down the culprit.

RELATED: Update Windows now to protect against this dangerous exploit

David Weston, Vice President of OS Security and Enterprise at Microsoft, recently tweeted about the upcoming feature, too:

This new privacy setting has yet to be introduced in a Windows update, but the above tweet indicates it should be coming soon. In the meantime, take this as a reminder to keep your Windows PC updated.

To update Windows 10:

  • Tap or click the Start button Settings Update & Security > Windows Update. Then select Check for updates.
  • If an update is available, select Download and install now.

To update Windows 11

  • Go to Start Settings > Windows Update Check for updates.
  • If an update is available, select Download and install now.

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