Hide your Webcams!

It sure is fun to Skype with friends online or browse through other video chat websites when you are bored, but what if you are having an intimate moment with someone or browsing certain websites and you do not want anyone to know? Well too bad! Not only might the NSA be watching your dirty actions, but so might hackers through your webcam!

Due to the advancements of technology, people are able to mess around with Flash installed on computers and use CSS/HTML tricks to access a user’s webcam.  This process is called clickjacking, which according to Oxford dictionaries, means the following: “the malicious practice of manipulating a website user’s activity by concealing hyperlinks beneath legitimate clickable content, thereby causing the user to perform actions of which they are unaware”. An example of such action is the hacking of Cassidy Wolf (Miss Teen USA). Cassidy was supposedly spied on by a hacker through her webcam, he threatened to release nude pictures if she did not abide by his commands. More information on this incident can be found in the article titled “Webcam Spying Goes Mainstream as Miss Teen USA Describes Hack.” Another example includes that of a sex offender named Mark Wayne Miller who had created a fake online video chatting profile in order to trick under-age girls into performing sexual activities. He would also hack into their webcams and record them without them or family members knowing. As stated in the article, “He distributed some of the recorded Webcam footage to others”; this of course might lead to images of the underage girls ending up on porn or other related sites.

As you can see by the couple of examples posted, online security is crucial. The world was in shock when Edward Snowden released files that support the notion that the NSA has been and still is spying on U.S citizens and other countries worldwide. Yet, many people are unaware that their webcams can be easily hacked and images transferred to sites and other people. The risks of this happening can be reduced by purchasing a strong anti-virus program, having firewall enabled, having a secured network and disconnecting webcams if possible, if not, by covering them with tape.

Kumparak, Greg. “Smile! Hackers Can Silently Access Your Webcam Right Through The Browser (Again).” TechCrunch RSS. TechCrunch, 13 June 2013. Web. 17 Sept. 2013.

Anderson, Nate. “ArsTechnica.” Ars Technica. Arstechnica, 16 Aug. 2013. Web. 17 Sept. 2013.

Gaudin, Sharon. “InformationWeek: The Business Value of Technology.” InformationWeek. InformationWeek, 12 July 2007. Web. 17 Sept. 2013





6 thoughts on “Hide your Webcams!

  1. What a creepy thought. On my desktop I’m sure to unplug my webcam whenever I am not using it, but for those with integrated webcams (laptops, phones, tablets) you have to go VERY far out of your way to disable your webcam.

  2. This is truly shocking information. Most of the time, I feel that many of us never consider whether or not we are being monitored through our webcam. I know that I don’t. It is for this reason that these online hackers and predators are able to gain access so easily. Everyone is entitled to their privacy, to a point, but learning that sexual predators have been using this ability to obtain indecent photos of young girls makes me sick. After reading this, I feel obligated to research other ways to prevent this sort of privacy theft. Much like the movement against cyber-bullying, there should be widespread action notifying internet-users on the risk of leaving their webcams on.

    • I agree here. But just like many campaigns, one should be started with a general understanding of internet and information security. After the above example, it is easy for anyone to lose a sense of security, or lose control of their computer.

      Personally, I don’t own a web camera and do not plan to make such an investment. With much of the discussion about camera telecommunications, I wonder how this can apply to people that own mobile device, such as: iPod, Android, and other smart devices. How can they protect themselves from unwanted attacks, and how can they avoid getting into such situations? From the sound of it, many of these attacks are cued by accepting something that pops up.

  3. Every laptop has an integrated webcam nowadays, same things for phones, iPads, etc. It’s virtually impossible not to have at least one webcam around. And the thing is that webcams are as secure as the computer they’re connected to. It is really easy to remotely control a webcam provided the victim’s computer is infected by some kind of malware. There is no need to be a super hacker.

    The danger with webcams is that they just are there and we tend to forget about them.

  4. With the high popularity and use of mobile devices, I know that this is especially true and people (including myself) are not thinking too much about how vulnerable we can be. So many applications nowadays can have access to our cameras, photos, microphone, etc. I wonder if there are apps that we can install to at least make it more difficult from hackers in getting access? Unplugging or turning off devices is definitely a safe bet, but this is only a partial solution of course, as we utilize our devices so regularly.

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