Web cam creeps & hackers: Are they really watching you?

Protect yourself from unknown intrusion by monitoring your webcam and updating security measures.
Protect yourself from unknown intrusion by monitoring your webcam and updating security measures.
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Supplied by Pixabay

Do you have a friend that covers their webcam with a sticky tab? Ever think they might be going overboard? Well, think again.

There are hackers that can easily manoeuvre through your computer’s security to steal your webcam and spy on you. The worse part: it’s relatively easy to do.

In order for a hacker to gain control of your webcam, they need to get a particular sort of software installed. This is commonly done through the use of software called “malware.” Malware is an umbrella term for malicious software that’s typically used to syphon data from your computer or take over private computer systems.

Generally, the malware used to take over your webcam (or pretty much anything on your computer) is sent in the form of a “Trojan horse.” This type of virus is disguised as something else — usually a desirable program. Once it’s installed on your computer, it runs hidden in the background, and essentially opens a backdoor to your computer.  

In order for a Trojan horse to get installed on your computer, you need to first allow it. It convinces you that it’s a desired program. Once malicious software is installed on your computer, the hacker is a mere list of computer commands away from taking control of your webcam.

Paranoid yet? You should be. Take a deep breath — there are ways to defend against such malware and mal intent.

Cover up your webcam

The easiest way to defend against the unknown intrusion is to cover up your webcam. Take a paper tab or opaque tape and secure it across the camera lens. Remove it when you need to Skype your family or friends. However, there’s a disclaimer — this doesn’t defend against the hijacking of your mic or any other damage brought on by malware.

Run regular security scans

This is super important, particularly if you use torrents to watch movies or play games. Regular downloading or streaming can increase your risk of contracting a dangerous computer virus. But there’s always a security risk if you use your computer. You can download any paid, up-to-date, anti-virus scanner, like Norton. Run these scans frequently and keep your anti-virus up to date.

Keep an eye on your cam light

If you’re not using your webcam, but the light is flashing, then it’s probably time to worry. Block it with a piece of tape and immediately disconnect from the Internet and run a virus scan.

Though your webcam could potentially have been hacked, that’s not necessarily the case. It’s good to be careful however. It’s not unheard of that our government could and would hack webcams of everyday citizens.

Too much vigilance with cyber security is never a bad thing. Cyberspace is a dangerous place, but you have oodles of tools to use to minimize the danger.  

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