Cybersafety 101: Cover your Webcam

In 2016, James Comey, then-director of the FBI, recommended that all private citizens cover their webcams on their phones, computers, and tablets. Hackers, government agencies, and other entities have developed ways to use webcams to spy on people using their devices. In 2010, Harriton High School in Pennsylvania used webcams on school-issued laptops to take pictures of the people who were using them. They were programmed to take a picture every 15 minutes as a way of verifying the identity of the user. One student found that the laptop he was using had taken 400 pictures of him, including some when he was either asleep or partially dressed. The school only narrowly escaped having to face criminal charges for its actions. What is scary is that it was able to use the webcams for this purpose.

The easiest way to cover your webcam is to do what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg does: cover it with a piece of dark tape. Whenever you want to use your webcam to make a video call, remove the tape. After the call is over, apply another piece of tape or a opaque sticker. Imagine that something so simple as a small piece of tape or sticker could protect your online privacy and even prevent you from being blackmailed or extorted! But a hacker will not be able to override this physical obstruction.

Information courtesy: Hacking Studios

(Updated section: 17th Feb 2019)

Sample Threat 1

2109 news update – Zoom does have a history of privacy issues. In 2019, a security researcher unearthed a bug that allowed webcams of Zoom users to be hacked without their knowledge, although the company has said that the issue has been resolved.

Sample Threat 2

Below images are an example of extortion emails sent by malicious hackers feeding on the insecurities of internet users and who use webcam without knowing it can be used as a tool to threaten unsuspecting users. NEVER  EVER respond or reply back to any such emails. Most importantly, leave them or delete them in the SPAM folder immediately. These are Phishing emails sent out in thousands expecting someone would panic & start believing these to be true. So, keep those prying hackers out & Cover your Webcam Now!