If you have a particularly nerdy friend, you might have noticed that their laptop’s webcam might be taped. Ever wondered why?
Even the FBI recommends taping or covering your webcam and mic.
Webcams have been a security breach hole for quite some time now. If a hacker can get access to your machine, they can easily activate the webcam and mic without you having the slightest hint.
The standard procedure for such attacks is when a hacker sends an email to the victim with a malicious file or link. As soon as the link is opened, the hacker gains access to the user’s computer.
From there, the attacker basically can do anything they want. They can not only access files but also control various other hardware parameters of your computer. The attackers may also be able to control any accessories connected to the computer.
The most common of these accessories: a webcam. Especially laptop webcams can be activated quite easily. Even the LED indicator light next to the webcam is disabled so that the victim has no idea of what is happening to his/her computer.
Similarly, microphones can also be activated to spy on the victim?
Should you be worried?
If you have a camera attached to your computer and are connected to the internet, yes.
It doesn’t matter to these attackers if you are a high profile actor or a common man. To them, all information is equally precious.
In 2013, you could get access to a girl’s webcam for just $1 on the dark web.
General awareness about this vulnerability has been around for quite some time, at least in the western world. There’s always been a demand for webcam stickers and covers in the market which directly shows how aware the general public is about this phenomenon.
Almost all major intelligence agencies are suspected of knowing how to access a person’s webcam without their knowledge. There have been public demonstrations by various researchers and companies over the year spreading more knowledge about these breaches as well.
With awareness comes fear. Anyone who knows about this is living under the constant fear of being watched and spied on.
Where there’s fear, there’s money to be made.
Companies have been using this vulnerability to market the hell out of their webcam covering products. Most of these covers or tapes are pretty much useless though.
While there isn’t a lot you can do once an attacker invades your machine, there are still a bunch of precautions you can take to ensure this doesn’t happen.
- Cover your laptop webcam with a piece of tape or buy a webcam cover.
- Scan your computer regularly for any malware or spyware that might have made its way into your system.
- Avoid opening any suspicious attachments and links that might land in your inbox. People have been hacked while watching Netflix.
- Keep your OS up to date. The latest security updates from your OS manufacturer is the best way of ensuring your safety and privacy.
Stay safe online!