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Webcam Hacking


Regardless of whether it’s desktop computers, laptops, TVs, or tablets, cases of webcam hacking (also referred to as "camfecting") have consistently been on the rise in recent years (as reported by renowned tech portals such as TechCrunch and Mashable as well as the daily press). Hackers can, in fact, control any type of webcam remotely without your knowledge and thus invade your privacy. Once they’re in, images and videos captured using the webcam are sent to the hacker’s computer, without the owner even realizing it.

How do you hack into a webcam?

It doesn’t take much know-how to hack into a webcam. A remote access Trojan (RAT), which is a computer virus that’s easy to obtain online, is concealed in a file or behind a link (for instance on YouTube or Facebook), in an e-mail, or on any website. The virus is loaded onto the device when the victim unknowingly downloads the file, clicks on the link, or merely visits the infected website. The malware is installed and the user is none the wiser. Once the Trojan has been installed in the device, the hacker can fully control the infected device from a remote location and activate the camera (see the BBC video also). The small signal light next to the webcam can also be circumvented.

Is this nothing more than a scare tactic?

Unfortunately, it’s not. In most cases, the victims are upstanding, private people. Because webcam hacking is comparatively simple, a wide variety of perpetrators make use of it: jealous ex-partners, Peeping Toms, pedophiles, and amateur hackers "collect" as many webcams as possible and then pass on access in darknets.

Even FBI Director James Comey once said in an interview: "You go into any government office and we all have the little camera things that sit on top of the screen. They all have a little lid that closes down on them. You do that so that people who don’t have authority don’t look at you. I think that’s a good thing."

And what does that mean for my company?

It’s not only the devices of high-ranking managers that professional criminals see as potential targets (that’s why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg covers his webcam). Smaller companies should also protect their employees from industrial espionage and other types of webcam-based attack. After all, even if you "have nothing to hide" in business life, it doesn’t mean that you want to share all of your formulas for success.

How can I protect myself?

It’s surprisingly easy: you can enjoy guaranteed security just by manually blocking your webcam with a Webcam Cover when you’re not using it. And treat intruders to a black screen. As many know, there are a lot of software solutions that promise to protect you from viruses or deactivate the webcam. But these digital tools are never 100% reliable and also require regular software updates.