Protect yourself from blackmail: Cover your webcam, expert warns

Privacy

Source: Privacy Watch

July 12, 2018

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Owning a laptop or computer doesn’t automatically mean that your information is safe from prying eyes.

According to a report, hackers can now use webcams to secretly take footage of unsuspecting victims. These hackers then use the videos for blackmail.

If you don’t cover your webcams, you run the risk of being blackmailed by hackers, warns Candid Wueest, a security expert from Symantec. He adds that there are even various communities where cybercriminals gather to brag about the people that they have observed via hacked webcams. These hackers can be found on the dark web where they poke fun at their victims.

Wueest adds that there are also hackers who ask for money in exchange for “images and videos captured of sexual acts/masturbation.” Victims are told to send at least 100 British Pounds ($135) unless they want the photos/videos to be posted on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Wueest comments that some of these hackers aren’t even in it for the money. They often do it just “for the fun of it” or to exert their power over their victims. This horrible form of cyber bullying involves hackers who feel a sense of pride, especially when they make strangers lose their composure or cry in front of their webcams.

This issue concerning the hacking of webcams has been discussed before, and in 2013, there were even rumors that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) could use webcams to spy on people.

These hackers/cyberbullies choose their victims from those who download malware which lets the former access the latter’s webcams. Initially used to gain log-in information or credit card details, malware is now being used for personal attacks.

Once malware is downloaded, all of your devices are compromised. Malware can spread anywhere, and people are easily tricked into downloading it because it is often disguised as an innocuous program used for something else.

You can easily protect yourself by covering your camera and microphone using a piece of tape or a sticker. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and ex FBI-Director James Comey both use this simple technique. (Related: Is your power strip spying on you? Complex hacking device looks like extension cord.)

Wueest concluded that he also uses tape on his laptops, and that he simply removes it when he needs to access the webcams. Aside from other methods of securing your webcam, such as “scanning for malware, putting in passwords and activating firewalls,” some tape or nail varnish is the “safest and easiest way” to protect yourself.

Tips to help secure your webcam

Aside from covering your webcam with some tape, you can secure your webcam using the other suggestions listed below:

  • Always unplug an external webcam – This might seem like a hassle, but this is one sure way of guaranteeing that no one can take images or photos without your knowledge. You can also use the cover that is included in some webcam models.
  • Use verified computer security software — The security program that you’re using should ideally include “antivirus, anti-spyware, a firewall, and other tools” that will secure your data.
  • Consult a trusted technician — If your device needs to be repaired, always check if your source or technician is trustworthy. Always scan your computer or laptop for any spying software or remote access programs that could have been installed without your knowledge.
  • Secure your wireless network — Never set up a Wi-Fi network without a secure password. This also prevents outsiders from taking advantage of your Wi-Fi. You can also change the settings for your webcam so that you’ll get notifications if it is being used (e.g. a small light that turns on, a sound alert, or notifications).

You can read more articles about how to use technology wisely at FutureScienceNews.com.

Sources include:

DailyMail.co.uk

GetCyberSafe.gc.ca

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