Aspect IT: Can people spy on you via your webcam?

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Can people spy on you via your webcam?

Advertisement feature by Peter Dorotiak, Director of Aspect IT

NEARLY EVERYONE is connected to the internet somehow, whether we like it or not.

Someone once said “with great power comes great responsibility”. Being connected to the internet inevitably has certain risks about yours and your family’s privacy, so you should ensure your family is protected and take responsibility.

In some of our previous articles, we have addressed the need for anti-virus and explained what ransomware is. One of the consequences of having a virus on your computer can be a compromise to your personal privacy; namely via your webcam.

Here we explore the issues surrounding webcams and how to protect yourself:

What is a webcam? Most people will know what a webcam is. It is a video camera connect to an internet enabled device. Most users will have a webcam of sorts, either inbuilt into a laptop or a dedicated webcam plugged into a PC. But people often overlook that webcams are also in smartphones and home security cameras, which can also be compromised.

Does it really happen? The simple answer is yes, hackers do access webcams for a variety of reasons. They will also hack camera security systems, like in schools, to spy on people. So don’t assume it couldn’t happen to you or your family.

How can I stop it happening? Ensure you have some good quality anti-virus and don’t click on any suspicious links on web sites or in emails. It sounds simple but many people still don’t have adequate anti-virus or never renew their subscriptions.

A simple tip for home security systems with cameras is to make sure you have changed the default passwords shipped with the devices. This is a common access route for hackers.

If you have a dedicated webcam, unplug it when it’s not in use. For laptops with a webcam, put something over it. You may have seen people in cafes with sticky tape or blu-tac over their laptop webcams. Even Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, does it!

Finally, educate your family and/or children about the dangers. Many people don’t realise the risk to their privacy, so spread the word and be vigilant.

 

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