You do not need to search long to find a webcam, they are easily sighted. They are on your laptop, tablet, as well as your smartphone. It is great to be able to chat with friends or family and be able to see their faces, however, cameras also pose a danger to your privacy as well as security. You might have noticed a piece of tape over a co-worker’s or a friend’s webcam lately, that is because cyber threats can target webcams, too.
A cybercriminal can potentially gain access to your webcam to record videos as well as sounds related to you. You might be thinking to yourself, that you would be able to recognize if someone did that with your device, however, there are ways a hacker can disable the LED light that normally signals the webcam is in use, even though it is running.
Do you really need to cover the camera on your laptop?
Many people cover up their webcam because they don’t have an idea who could be watching on the other end. If someone gains access to your webcam, they might gather footage to extort, blackmail, or just for the sake of causing mayhem in your life.
The flip side is, it is an easy cyber threat to protect yourself against. I have given a few reasons as to why you should cover up your webcam.
The motive of cyber thieves is to seek ways to target, then steal information. This might be in the form of hijacking online bank accounts, stealing financial data used for online shopping, or even cracking into social media accounts.
The viruses and malware that can steal information from your devices, also contain embedded software that can record whatever the webcam sees. This might be an activity that takes place in the comfort of your home or someplace else. If used for malicious purposes, a webcam has the ability to record sensitive moments or material, with the infected laptop, then send the recordings back to the cybercriminal.
The material that is collected by the webcam can be used for a range of malicious purposes, for example, blackmail, identity theft, or causing distress. The cyber threat of an exposed webcam can have a very serious real-life impact.
What could happen if your webcam is vulnerable?
If you do not take precautions to secure your webcam, your privacy, as well as your online security, might not be as strong as it can be.
There are two types of common webcams, each of which has different vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cybercriminals:
- Wireless webcams: These cameras use wireless connectivity to connect to your device, which also means they have an IP address as well as a password. Often, when the consumer purchases and sets up the webcam, they tend to leave the password as the default option, instead of setting up their unique complex password. This means anyone who is able to find the IP address might easily guess the password, then access the device.
- Built-in webcams: These cameras are built into your device, they come in handy for video conversations. However, if your device gets a virus or malware, cybercriminals could easily take over the webcam functionality. They can turn it on or off as they wish, as well as disable the LED light to avoid suspicion.
Generally, a smartphone’s front-facing webcam is not considered a security risk. That is because when you’re not using it, it is usually in your purse or pocket.
Cybercriminals have the ability to access the webcams, and because of the positions of your devices, be it your laptop facing your living room, kitchen, or office, they can expose your privacy as well as sensitive conversations.
That is why it is a good idea to cover up your webcam. Or, you can take other steps to improve your internet security.
The 6 tips you can implement to improve webcam privacy and security
Covering your webcam is an easy trick to avoid spying, however, it doesn’t totally address the need for internet security. Putting tape over your webcam does not mean someone cannot still listen through the microphone.
Here are six other tips you can use to help improve your webcam as well as device security.
- Invest in antivirus software. Built-in webcams can be hacked with common viruses as well as malware. Antivirus software can help better protect your device against cyber threats. Some security software prevents applications as well as malware from accessing your computer’s webcam without your permission.
- You need to make sure your firewall is running, because firewalls act as a gate ensuring only legitimate traffic makes it to your network, thus, in turn, protecting your built-in webcam.
- If you have a wireless camera, then change the password. Thousands of wireless webcams are generally existing with the same default password that was coded into them by the camera manufacturer. If you do update the default password to something unique and complex, it will help improve the security of your webcam.
- Make sure your operating systems, as well as software, are up-to-date. Cybercriminals have the ability to compromise devices and download viruses onto them by exploiting vulnerabilities found in the operating system or software. You have to make sure you update to the latest versions to patch the security flaws.
- An obvious tip, but you should avoid suspicious links or attachments. Cybercriminals tend to use phishing emails to deliver a webcam virus or malware. Only open emails and links or download attachments from email addresses that you believe in.
- You could use a sliding webcam cover. This is a simple solution, you should just slide the cover when you want to talk face-to-face with someone, then close it when you’re not using it, this is the one I use.
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