The concept seems too bizarre to be true—why would someone want to spy on you through your laptop’s webcam? And how could they? Unfortunately, regardless of intentions, webcam spying is a common crime across the world. In this article, we’ll briefly outline a few cases of webcam spying scandals and help protect you from becoming a victim.
3 Cases of Webcam Spying
According to the Bristol Post, investigators uncovered software sold online that enabled webcam spying for purchasers. The software was priced around just $42 (some software has been discovered to be even cheaper). It functioned by installing a Luminosity Link Remote Access Trojan, which has the ability to disable anti-virus software, as well as record victims through their webcams while remaining undetectable. Over 8,000 people bought that software, that reveals the ever-present nature of the webcam spying threat.
There are even examples of seemingly innocuous actions resulting in webcam spying. For example, rent-to-own retailer Aaron’s was formally accused by the FTC of installing webcam spying software on its rented computers. The purpose of this remains unknown, however, the software recorded “adults engaged in intimate activities”. The very nature of this case shows that someone can access your webcam regardless of your cyber security caution.
A third surprising case of webcam spying relates to an Iranian man known as “Mo.” This man was a target of an investigation by the U.S. government and surveillance tactics used to investigate him revealed quite a bit about the FBI’s practices. In fact, the government managed to have Mo unintentionally download a malware via email—which then enabled the FBI to use the Iranian’s own laptop for webcam spying. Through the malware, they were able to gather further information about the man and continue the investigation. Certainly, you can see this case as a positive example of webcam spying, but the overall implication is that the same tactics could be used against anyone—even groups that you are supposed to trust, like the FBI.
So what can you do to prevent webcam spying?
We recommend that you implement a multi-pronged security system, with 3 main steps:
- Keep your anti-malware software updated. Most people click “update later” when reminded to update their anti-malware software. However, you should do it as often as possible. Often, you can find new updates so that you can defend your computer against a newer type of virus.
- Cover your webcam when you’re not using it. Unfortunately, anti-malware software often doesn’t go far enough. This is a result of hackers becoming better and better everyday—as well as anti-virus software having to wait until it detects the virus until it can create a solution. Webcam covers are a foolproof method to increase your security protection from any webcam spying threat. Certain webcam covers are easily attachable and can slide to cover up your camera only when it is not being used.
- Retain best practices when using the Internet. Don’t click links in emails unless you’re positive that they are safe. Try to avoid websites that may seem dangerous, for example, streaming websites. Always be skeptical before downloading something from the Internet. And the list goes on and on.
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