How to Check School Computer for Monitoring Software
Schools may install computer monitoring software on laptops issued to students or teachers without their knowledge. If you’re curious about whether your school-issued computer has monitoring software, there are a few ways you can check for it.
You can check your school-issued computer for monitoring software by opening the task manager and identifying suspicious programs, identifying suspicious webcam or microphone activity, and filter-testing different websites.
Read below to find out more about how to identify monitoring software on your school computer.
Why Schools May Monitor Computers
A lot of schools provide laptops to students at a subsidized price or even for free. However, there are actual costs and unresolved ethical problems associated with them. Some student monitoring software transfers student data to the cloud automatically, sometimes without the students’ or their families’ knowledge or permission.
Additionally, using monitoring software like Wolfeye makes it possible for school officials or teachers to monitor any of their students, whether they are on campus or at home. Teachers can secretly monitor their students’ screen activity, including the websites they visit and the amount of time they spend on each of them, as well as the tasks they complete for school.
School administrators can also access teachers’ laptop displays, which allows them to monitor various metrics such as the amount of time teachers have spent online, the websites they visit, and much more.
How to Check School Computer for Monitoring Software
Here are some things you can do to find out if your school is monitoring your computer:
Use Task Manager
Checking to see whether any monitoring programs are active on your device is one of the best ways of checking whether or not your school is monitoring you. It’s not as hard as it might seem, given that you can always see what programs are running on your PC or Mac. Such monitoring programs can be located using Windows Task Manager or Mac Activity Monitor.
To access Task Manager, follow these steps:
- Simply right-click the Windows taskbar.
- Select the Task Manager option.
- Navigate to the Processes tab.
Windows Task Manager displays a list of all currently active tasks. Check for unfamiliar processes and research them to learn their functions.
To access Activity Monitor, follow these steps:
- Go to your Mac’s Applications folder.
- Then, in the Utilities directory, open Activity Monitor
- Click on the CPU tab.
The Activity Monitor on a Mac displays a list of all processes that are currently active. After you’ve chosen the CPU tab, you can identify unfamiliar processes. In this way, you can obtain a complete inventory of all the programs and processes currently active on your machine.
Pro tip: Once you find software that you are unfamiliar with, you can search for its name on the internet to determine its purpose. It is not a good idea to terminate any task that you are unfamiliar with, as this could make your system unstable.
Filter Testing Various Webpages
You may easily determine whether or not your school employs network filters and monitoring tools by trying to access websites that are usually restricted, such as Netflix, YouTube, and TikTok. If you are unable to access these websites, your school likely has active filtering or monitoring systems in place.
If you are able to access them, there might not be any filters in place, or your school may be less strict about the type of content that is restricted. Keep in mind that going into private mode will not prevent your school from monitoring your web browsing habits or bypassing filters.
Suspicious Webcam or Microphone Activity
Computer monitoring software is not limited to merely documenting websites that you visit; it can also become more personal.
Programs like these have the ability to record every keystroke you make, as well as keep tabs on your webcam usage. Your computer may record and analyze everything you type or say.
If this is the case, you must look for warning indicators.
For the most part, both built-in and external webcams will display a light, which is often a green or white LED, to indicate that the webcam is operational. Detecting microphone use is more difficult; however, the Sound settings option allows you to listen for the sounds that a microphone is picking up.
What to Do if Your School is Monitoring Your Computer
It is important to remember that educational institutions are permitted by law to install monitoring software on the devices that they have provided to students. It is their duty to ensure a safe environment, which includes taking precautions to prevent potentially dangerous behaviors, bullying, and other forms of misconduct.
Schools, however, are obligated to follow the regulations and protect the privacy of their students.
Practices such as monitoring confidential messages and personal devices are not permissible. If you have reason to believe that this happened, you need to involve your parents or an attorney, record the evidence, and the administrators at your institution.
1. Involve Parents or an Attorney
If you suspect that your school is monitoring you, you should talk to a parent or guardian immediately. They can help you take further action, such as talking to a lawyer if you think there has been a serious breach of privacy.
2. Record the Evidence
If you suspect that your school is monitoring you, it is important to gather proof to support your claim. This could involve capturing images of the software in action and storing relevant emails or messages.
3. Contact the Administration
Voicing your concerns to your institution’s administrators can prove to be helpful. Administrators and teachers can discuss the rationale for and procedures for student monitoring at the school. Additionally, they may address any worries you may have concerning privacy breaches.
So, if you suspect that your school has been monitoring your school-issued laptop or computer, there are methods you can use to check for such monitoring activities. It is also recommended that you reach out to your school’s administrator if you have any monitoring-related concerns.