Posted on December 30, 2019 at 5:24 PM
These days, webcams are a part of most computer setups. Most laptops have them built-in, while the majority of desktop users have an external camera that they use for having video chats, recording themselves while creating online content, and alike.
However, what you may not have known is that webcams can be dangerous for your privacy. Over the years, there have been countless reports of webcam hacking incidents, where hackers would use their victims’ cameras to spy on them and record them.
This often leads to blackmailing and ransom demands, while in some cases, hackers would simply record unsuspecting users and upload videos on voyeurism websites.
In other words, if you were wondering if stories of webcam hacking and spying are true — they are. Most of the time, those who do this are actual hackers, rather than people that you may know (although that remains a possibility as well), and, as you can imagine — doing so is quite unlawful.
As technology progressed over the years, so did hacking methods, but also a number of devices that hackers have started breaching. Numerous people have reported online criminals finding their ways into various IoT devices that use cameras, such as baby monitors, outdoor cameras, and alike. In fact, Amazon and its subsidiary Ring were recently sued for $5 million for supposedly selling vulnerable cameras, which hackers used to spy on people and encourage children to perform destructive actions.
In most cases, however, the flaw does not lie with the device itself. Instead, it is the users themselves who fail to take the necessary precautions and protect themselves.
What can you do to protect yourself?
The fact is that hacking is a real problem — one that most people should be aware of by now. With that in mind, taking security precautions should always be the first step you take whenever you purchase a new device that has a connection to the internet.
When it comes to preventing such threats, knowing about them is half the job, which is why it is extremely important to raise awareness of such issues. In other words, cameras are not bad. They are tools that can be very useful to their owners, provided that they are secure and reliable.
So, when you purchase a new device that features a built-in camera, or an external camera for your PC, you must always remember to protect that device with a password. If the device already comes with a default password, you should change it as soon as possible, as default passwords are well-known in the hacking community, and they can be used against you while providing a false sense of security.
Furthermore, if you are using an external camera, make sure to only have it plugged in when you are using it. Otherwise, unplug it when you don’t need it. Of course, this is not possible for a camera that is already integrated into your laptop, but you can always cut access to it via the Device Manager.
Another option is to use some sort of webcam cover. Simply tape a piece of paper over your integrated webcam in order to prevent someone from monitoring you, even if they manage to hack your device and hijack your camera. Do the same with microphones, as it should be enough to mask most sounds and prevent the hacker from listening.
Of course, if you wish, you can also completely disable the mic, as well. But, do remember to enable it once again when you need to use it for your own purposes. Finally, you should pay attention to your cam, as many of them have a light that turns on when the camera is being used. That way, you can always tell if someone is watching.
Granted, we said that most devices have this light, but not all of them. Luckily, Windows 10 users have an option to turn on notifications for when their cam is being used. Also, remember that most videos recorded with your own camera are likely to be stored on your device, as well. This is why you should search for the usual file locations for videos and make sure that there are no videos that you may have been unaware of.
Cameras may be useful, but they are also a tool that hackers can use against you. This is why you need to take precautions and prevent webcam hacking whenever possible. Alternatively, use webcam cover to stop hackers from spying on you while keeping your camera handy and available, if you use it often for business or private communication.
Always remember that technology comes with countless benefits if you use it in a smart way. If not, it can be hijacked and misused, often serving those who might seek to do you harm. This is not a reason to reject it, however, but rather to educate yourself, and learn more about the potential threats and remedies that you should be aware of.