A few years ago, having a webcam on your computer was proof of tech affluence. It seemed like an amazing out-of-this-world invention to have a laptop with its own camera. Now, the webcam is as ubiquitous as technology itself. So why should it be making the news? Spies-that’s why.
Some individual or organization could be intruding into your private life via your webcam! A recent lawsuit in the United States accused a school district of using webcams on school-issued laptops to spy on students and their families.
And in China, a sophisticated network of hackers known as GhostNet has cracked 1,295 webcams in 103 countries. Experts say that most hackers utilize so-called Trojan horse attacks. In other words, you click on an attachment or download a piece of music or video infected with malware, and a hacker is able to remotely control your PC’s functions.
So how can you avoid this? Experts offer these simple tips:
Avoid suspicious attachments
Everyone on the internet is looking for something for free. Hackers know that, and sometimes break into your webcam by offering you malware disguised as free music, videos, etc. So don’t be in a hurry to download suspicious attachments.
Use a firewall
This may sound strange, but your computer comes with a firewall. Your job is to make sure that it’s turned on. If you use a Windows operating system, click on the Windows symbol in the lower-left corner of your screen, search for Windows Firewall, and you’ll be able to check the firewall settings. If you use a Mac OS, open System Preferences, click on the Sharing icon, select the Firewall tab and click Start.
Use strong anti-virus software
Stop ignoring constant alerts that your computer is at risk. Use strong anti-virus software on your computer, and for your own sake, update regularly.
Don’t keep PCs with webcams in bedrooms.
When you’ve done all the above, go the extra mile; don’t keep personal computers in your bedroom, and make sure that you don’t do anything in front of your computer that you would be embarrassed to do in public.
Watch out for the red light.
Watch for the light that indicates that the camera is on—literally. On external webcams, you’ll usually see a red light while laptops with internal webcams usually have a blue LED indicator.