What would you do if someone had access to your webcam - without you being aware? Imagine that someone could be looking at you through your webcam right now. That's what happened to Miss Teen USA some years, Kanye West & Richard Branson and Spurs £100 million Harry Kane in recent times.
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, takes webcam security precautions to protect his privacy. Hackers have been actively exploiting vulnerabilities and targeting webcams for many years.
As cameras, video and he quality improve and get cheaper at the same time, it's worth thinking about. Hacker can see their target behind a laptop or desktop PC without the victim knowing and doing so 'silently'.
Called “Camfecting" cybercriminals and hackers have been extorting money from people for years, with the 'we've been watching you' email. Men in particular who fall for this email scam are asked for £800 on bitcoin on average, anxious to preserve their modesty, usually realising the minute they send the money it was a scam. Suddenly a much greater threat looms, the wife wants to know where the £800 went. Twice Whoops.
Curiously Miss Teen USA was owned by Donald Trump at the time, who naturally boasted of his creepy visits to the competition changing rooms to Howard Stern on air. "Don't worry, ladies, I've seen it all before," when the cries rang out. Ivanka was co-hosting too. Cassidy's parents complained that the pageant provided no support for Cassidy when she was hacked.
Jared James Abraham, a 19-year-old American teenager, pleaded guilty to hacking over 100-150 women.
Using an aggressive type of webcam-focused malware called “Blackshades.” He stole nude images, videos and other personal data of the targeted women. One of his victims was Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf, who bravely was the only one to press criminal charges. She later said she couldn't believe it was a classmate of hers from school.
“Certain people are motivated by different things, and Jared’s motivation we believe was not meant to be predatory or evil,” Mr Eisner said. “We will acknowledge that that is the result, but his motivation was substantially to have social connections he was simply incapable of having.”
In a 22-page criminal complaint filed by prosecutors, Abrahams was accused of hacking into the web cameras on his victims’ computers and using them to take pictures while they were naked or undressed in the room.
Abrahams then contacted the girls or young women and threatened to post the pictures on their social media accounts unless they sent more, or undressed for him on Skype.
According to the criminal complaint, when one of the victims, a 17-year-old girl from Ireland, told Abrahams that she was downloading Skype to comply with his demands but asked him to “have a heart” because of her age, he responded: “I’ll tell you this right now! I do NOT have a heart!!!”
His family asked the judge to take into account his struggles with Asperger’s syndrome. He was prisoned for 18 months.
There is a long list of people who do cover their camera on their laptops including Mark Zuckerberg, Kanye West, Richard Branson, Arianna and Harry Kane, Spurs priceless striker.
Don't use Tape you might pull the eye too!
Disable the integrated built-in webcam is simple. Disable the webcam within the settings or system apps dashboard.
Using an external webcam on your laptop or computer, it’s simple. Disconnect it, that's it.
During COVID19 using Zoom, FaceTime, Skype for video calls. Instead of using a webcam cover make even more sense
Phishing emails are a popular and relatively successful method used to trick people into downloading malicious files or opening harmful links.
It’s therefore extremely important to avoid opening emails that show signs of being a phishing attempt.
For example, if you receive an email from (ostensibly) the Federal Reserve Bank, but the actual email address reads something like “[email protected],” you should know there’s something wrong. The Federal Reserve Bank doesn’t use “blake.ocn.ne.jp” email endings.
Another sign that tells you it’s a phishing email is odd email salutations such as “Dear Friend” or “My Friend.” Also, if you receive an email from a (supposed) bank or government institution that contains misspellings, grammar errors and awkward formatting, it’s most likely a phishing email.
Don’t click on any of the links within the text or any attachments that came with the email. It’s highly likely for attachments to contain a type of malware. It’s also not uncommon for hackers to attach webcam-tailored malware to install it onto your computer or laptop.
Read my in-depth post on phishing emails if you’d like to have some extra information. My post also contains a lot of helpful information and tips in regards to phishing emails.
An alternative method to phishing emails is shortened links that will redirect you to a harmful website or automatically start a download.
This tactic is mainly used on social media websites and other social platforms. Hackers and other types of cyber thieves use these websites to either send shortened links or malware files to their targets.
They could focus specifically on certain target(s), but they may also send out malicious links/files to a bulk collection of users on a platform or website.
It’s therefore essential to realize that social media is a fun platform, but also presents a lot of opportunities to fall victim to hackers.
Never open any shortened URL, unknown file or any link in general. If you do open a link or file, make sure it’s from someone you trust and know.
The file that you might download could be webcam-focused malware that takes control of your webcam and is then used to spy on you.
Be cautious of identity theft as well. If one of your friends sends you a super weird request or link, it’s probably because his or her account has been compromised.
Antivirus software isn’t tailored to scan for webcam-tailored malware. Antivirus will only detect malware if that specific type of malware is listed in the antivirus’ database.
webcam-tailored malware isn’t the highest priority for antivirus software developers. Perhaps consider a dedicated anti-malware program, like Malwarebytes or HitmanPro.
The software won’t interfere with the antivirus software. chances are it might detect malware where the antivirus fails to recognize it.
Has your anti-malware detected a harmful file on your Windows device? Read my post on how to delete malware from your Windows machine.
In most cases, a webcam has an external notification light that will tell you whether the webcam is on or off. These are cheap components and things break, so perhaps the light is broken and you can't whether it is 'on or off
Like all software, when the software is outdated, it’s vulnerable to hackers and exploits.
Webcams are devices controlled and designed by firmware, or independent electronic devices, such as drivers, network cards, scanners, etc. So hackers can easily exploit vulnerabilities in outdated firmware.
Developers usually fix vulnerabilities in software updates, so make sure to keep an eye on the news in regards to such updates.
Are you using an external webcam? Then this section applies to you.
External (or standalone) webcams are configured with standard default settings before they leave the manufacturing plant. The manufacturers export their products, which contain the standard default settings like username (admin, for example) and password.
The only way to configure these standard settings and change the default admin and password is to either use the installation CD or download the software on the manufacturer’s website.
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Hackers can gain access to your webcam. It could be done via a phishing email, a malicious link or file on a social media site, or outdated and vulnerable webcam software.
So why take the chance, we think it is instructive that Facebook CEO covers his camera and blocks the microphone. After all, he owns WhatsApp and Instagram, raising the question does he know something we don't.
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