Is There a Spy Behind Your Webcam?
Updated on July 13, 2021: From now on, traffic filtering, malware protection, and suspicious DNS activity blocking are available as a part of the separate DNS Firewall app.
Have you seen The Truman Show? That’s what your life can sometimes be like. A webcam, a smartphone camera, a baby monitor, or a home security system — these can be used by hackers to get a view on your life. And easily, too: with the abundance of YouTube tutorials on the topic and ready-made hacking software, anyone with enough determination can sneak peek at people in their PJs.
Can someone hack into my iPhone camera?
Yes, and into cameras on Android, Windows, and macOS, too. The issue is not limited to any one platform. There are several means hackers can use to gain access to your device’s cameras. Planting a malicious piece of code within seemingly harmless files and making people run these files is the most popular one to create a backdoor in a device’s security system. It’s called RAT — Remote access trojan.
How can they get you? In case with smartphones and computers, it’s through shady email attachments, sketchy limited time offers asking you to download stuff, viruses built in software you might download on some dodgy site, etc. In case with baby monitors and security cameras, hackers use special software to scan the network for such devices and try to access them with common factory passwords. Many people do not change stock passwords after buying their cameras, really. Did you know there was a password at all?
How can I stop a spy from using my camera to watch me?
You have probably been hammered this forever, but be sensible when it comes to emails from strangers, especially those saying you won something hefty; ignore links and stuff enclosed in them. Run solid antivirus software (and do check-ups once in a while), enable firewall and automatic system updates, download software from trusted sources, don’t click random banners.
If you happen to use remote administration, be careful not to get scammed, that is another major channel of setting backdoors. A reasonable idea is to use an administrator account only when really needed, and limit access permissions for your regular one.
If you want to go brutal and are sure you won’t need a webcam, you may want to remove its drivers from the computer, and thus disable it for good. Another sure option is covering your camera with a sticker of some kind (a plaster, post-it, or, better since it won’t leave glue marks after removal, painter’s tape) if you don’t mind a bit of a DIYish look (Mark Zuckerberg does it, too). Or you can buy commercial clip-on covers or slides that frame the camera permanently, allowing you to open the lens only when necessary.
If you own a home surveillance system and/or a baby monitor, be sure to adjust their security settings mindfully, with the help of a professional if needed and, of course, set a strong password. Thus, you’ll pretty much ensure you won’t see yourself on one of the voyeur’s sites.
Overall, just don’t underestimate how creepy the internet can be, and how cunning the hackers are. Whenever possible, use two-factor authentication, a VPN (try VPN Unlimited free for 7 days), encrypt your storage, backup your data. And passwords, yes, always remember to set strong and unique passwords (e.g., “Pa$Sw0r|)” is quite strong.
Do you cover your webcam? Let us know in the comments below.