Has your webcam been hacked? Here’s how to tell & secure it

Webcams are some of the most important computer accessories, but they also pose serious threats to privacy invasion. A webcam with poor security can easily provide a hacker with a direct view of your personal life. After watching you long enough, they may then try to blackmail you using something they have seen or captured.

Webcam

How can hackers access your webcam?

In the IoT (Internet of Things) era, there are many devices that have cameras and microphones. Actually, we are usually surrounded by cameras whether at home, in the office, everywhere. Ask yourself, how far are you from one right now?

James Scott, a senior fellow at the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology in the US, notes in his paper that “The weaponization of a device’s camera is effortless and can be accomplished by the most inexperienced cyber-adversary using outdated malware.”

One way a hacker can use to gain access to your webcam is through trojan horse malware. This kind of malware will look like a legitimate program on the outside, but it infects your device once it’s installed.

Should you be concerned?

Well, even Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of one of the biggest tech companies in the world, is concerned. In 2016, the Facebook founder posted a picture that sparked online debate about the safety of personal webcams. In the picture which was meant to promote Instagram reaching a milestone of half a billion monthly active users, his laptop could be seen with the webcam and mic taped over.

Mark Zuckerberg’s laptop webcam and mic tapped off

A few weeks later, the then FBI director James Comey told an audience that “I put a piece of tape over the camera because I saw somebody smarter than I am had a piece of tape over their camera.”

The reality of webcam hacks

In 2014, there was a Russian website that was displaying webcams from more than 10,000 feeds from all over the world showing children’s bedrooms, lounges, and business premises such as restaurants, shops, offices, and factories.

In the same year, 97 webcam hackers were arrested and charged for illegal spying. One of these hackers, Jared James Abrahams, captured nude photos of then Miss teen USA and used them to blackmail her.

How to tell if your webcam has been hacked

Fortunately, it’s quite easy to know if someone has illegally gained access to your webcam, whether the camera is inbuilt in your laptop or it’s attached via USB. Below are a few ways you can tell:

1. Check the webcam indicator light

All webcams usually have an indicator light to show when it’s being used. If you see your camera’s light flashing or glowing steadily and you are not using it, then someone probably is. In the case your indicator doesn’t work, get it fixed right away.

2. Check for unknown apps

If someone is controlling your webcam, it could mean that they have installed malware on your computer. You can check for unknown apps that may be using the webcam utility through task manager. Even better if you use Windows 10, you can use Microsoft’s Process Explorer.

3. Scan for suspicious apps

Run an anti-virus program and see if it identifies any infections. If some are found, write them down and Google if any of them are known to affect a computer’s webcam. If any are present, ensure that you clean them up using your antivirus software.

Keep your personal data secure

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How to secure your webcam

Digital security is super important in this age where hackers are looking for any avenue to steal your data, and governments want to intrude on your privacy. Fortunately, there are several ways of securing your data; from using a VPN to observing basic password policy.

1. Regularly change your passwords

Passwords are the weak spots of any system, and this applies to webcams too. If you have an IP cam, make sure that you change your password from the default one. This will easily deter anyone who wants to gain unauthorized remote access.

2. Keep an updated antivirus

Alongside a secure VPN like NymGuard, antivirus software is one of the most important cybersecurity tools. A good antivirus can defend you against ransomware, spyware, viruses, malware, and other online threats. Always keep it updated, and make sure that webcam protection is enabled where applicable.

3. Tape or cover your webcam

Besides all of the above, you can also go the Zuckerberg way and tape your webcam or use a webcam slide. The American digital rights group EFF started printing its own webcam stickers in 2013. Since then, they use, sell, and handout webcam stickers. The first ones read: “These removable stickers are an unhackable anti-surveillance technology.”

4. Practice safe online behavior

Most data breaches and malware infections are usually as a result of poor online habits. Always ensure that you use the internet wisely. For example, avoid opening suspicious email attachments or opening shortened links on Instagram.

5. Use a trusted VPN app

If you want to be secure when using any digital device that connects to the web, you should always use a VPN as this will encrypt your network traffic and make it impenetrable.

There are many VPN’s out there, but not all are secure and in fact, some (especially free ones), harvest your data and sell it on to third-parties. Thankfully, premium VPN’s such as NymGuard, use military-grade encryption and don’t log any data, offering you the best protection! Best of all, it’s easy to get started!

1. Get NymGuard VPN

Simply sign up to NymGuard then download and install our app on the device of your choice. We offer a 7-day free trial on our iOS and Android apps (when you sign up via the respective app stores) and a 30-day money-back guarantee on all accounts.

2. Connect to your prefered location

Select a location from our list of global servers – this is the location that you will be appearing to browse from.

3. Use the web with peace of mind

With fast servers and modern protocols, NymGuard adds an extra layer of security to your online experience, so you can enjoy browsing with peace of mind.

Keep your personal data secure

Sign up to NymGuard today, and benefit from best-in-class protection.

Get NymGuard Now

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