You might have heard that hackers can access your webcam and destroy your webcam security. In the age of the Internet of Things, that’s a pretty scary notion.
From your crazy ex to hackers looking to capture your personal details, anyone can easily hijack your webcam and cast you as the lead actor in their own reality show.
Not only might hackers be looking through the webcam on your computer, but they might also be watching through your home security system or any other camera you have hooked up to your network.
How does a webcam get hacked?
Here’s one way. You might inadvertently install Trojan horse malware on your device. And you may think you’re downloading a legitimate program. Instead, malware infects your computer.
The malware might install remote desktop software. It means hackers could get control of your device, including your webcam. If this happened, you probably wouldn’t know it.
Your privacy and security could be at risk. A cybercriminal could spy on you and use that knowledge to decide a good time to break into your home.
What to do for improving your webcam security?
So we know that cameras can give snoopers a look into your private life. What can you do for your webcam security and to stop webcam spies?
The usual ways hackers try to take over your cameras is by the Trojan horse attacks mentioned before. You might be scrolling on the internet, and then you click or download an attachment like file, music, video, etc. that is infected with some malware. Once this happens, the hacker will be able to remotely control some functions of your PC. In fact in this case, they take control of your camera.
Nevertheless, there are steps anyone can do, to improve your webcam security. Here are some of the most common things, as suggested by a couple of experts:
Cover your webcam, or disable it
If you don’t use it, so cover it with a tape. This is the easiest way that you do for your webcam security.
Be cautious of fake emails
Beware of emails which appear to be sent from trusted sources and ask you to download attachments. Or encourage you to click on a link, or disclose any personal details. Don’t click on any suspicious link or attachments.
Use a firewall
One of the most neglected features when it comes to computer protection. Every PC comes with one, but most people turn it off because they believe it’s just a waste of memory. However, that is entirely wrong. Even though the firewall offers just basic protection, it’s crucial that you keep it on at all times. It protects your computer to some degree though and it’s not enough.
Activate a powerful anti-virus software
Try to get an anti-virus that offers both spyware and malware protection, and make sure you update it all the time. The best option is to pay for a yearly subscription on one of the most renowned anti-virus software packages. However, some cost a lot of money, but even one of the cheaper options can get the job done.
Update your software regularly
Keep your software up to date. This helps patch vulnerabilities in your software that could allow hackers access to your device.
Updating your software is pretty easy on Mac and PC devices, and Apple and Android. Here’s an example of how to update. In this case, for Mac:
Mac (for MacOS Mojave)
- Choose System Preferences from the Apple menu.
- Click Software Update to check for updates.
- Click the Update Now button to install all available updates or click “More Info” to see more details about each update.
- Consider selecting “Automatically keep my Mac up to date” to install future MacOS updates. This also applies to apps downloaded from the App Store.
Mac (earlier macOS versions)
- Open the App Store app on your computer.
- Click Updates in the App Store toolbar.
- Click the Update buttons to install available updates.
- Download future updates automatically by choosing the Apple menu, then System Preferences. Click App Store. Select “Download newly available updates in the background.” You get a notification when updates are ready to install.
Don’t click on suspicious attachment
Surely, you have heard this before, but it’s in human nature to do first and think later. If there is anything that you don’t recognize, usually email attachments, suspicious sites that offer TV-shows, videos or music for free, or anything else that seems strange to you, just avoid it and you will save yourself from a lot of trouble.
Secure your wireless connection
Always make sure that your connection has a unique password and that you are not using the custom one that comes with the router.
Keep your PC/laptop out of the bedroom
Try to avoid taking a device that has a webcam in the bedroom. On top of that make sure that you and all members of your family are well aware that they shouldn’t do anything they don’t want people to see in front of a webcam.
Be wary of tech help
A lot of hackers are acting like tech support, offering their help to people, usually someone they already know. They come over, fix your issue and in the process rig your webcam so that they can spy on you with it later. If you require assistance with your computer, make sure you take it to an official, respectful shop.
As we can see, there are many great ways to protect yourself, but still, the only way to be sure that you are safe is by covering the webcam. When it comes to external webcams, you can always disconnect it as soon as you are finished using it. For any other webcam just put the lens cover. If it doesn’t have one, cover it with a sticky note or with a bandage.
We all remember the picture with Mark Zuckerberg in which his webcam is covered. That picture proved that webcam spying is more than a myth and that everyone should take measures before it’s too late.
Protect all your cameras
- Your smartphone needs protection too, so set up a secure passcode, use an antivirus, and keep your software up to date
- If you have a surveillance system, replace the default password with a secure one.
If you need to have your computer repaired, take it to a trustworthy source. Also, ensure remote access programs aren’t on your laptop or desktop you didn’t install yourself. If you find something, immediately uninstall it and bring it to a trusted source.
Note: Always be cautious about where you request remote tech support. Don’t let a technician take control over your computer to help you, unless you fully trust the source.