Warning: Cover Up Your Webcam When Not in Use

Techlicious – by Fox Van Allen

Childnet International, a non-profit working to keep kids safe on the Internet, has issued a stern warning to computer owners today: Hackers can take over webcams without your knowledge, so keep them covered up when not in use.

Once your computer is infected by a Trojan virus – often acquired by visiting the wrong website or by opening malicious email attachments – criminals can control your webcam without your knowledge. These types of hackings are rapidly becoming big business: The BBC has uncovered an entire industry centering on the buying and selling of access to compromised webcams, especially those owned by women.  

Ultimately, your best protection against such a hacking is to make sure your computer is running up to date anti-virus software. But there are other computer safety precautions you can take as well. “Pointing your webcam at a wall or covering it up can be good practice,” explains Childnet Chief Executive Will Gardner. He also recommends shutting laptop lids when they’re not in use, as cameras are often found immediately above laptop screens.

Independent computer security experts are urging people not to panic over the report, but otherwise confirm that there’s no harm in a little bit of added security to protect your privacy. “The idea of sticking a piece of paper over your webcam is reasonably common among the more paranoid members of the hacker community,” said Josh White, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, to the BBC. “But it’s not necessarily paranoid. It’s useful to be aware.”


13 thoughts on “Warning: Cover Up Your Webcam When Not in Use

  1. I have a webcam, but I don’t keep it hooked up at all times. the only time I connect my webcam is when I want to mess with it. I’m glad my laptop doesn’t have a webcam on it too.

  2. Unless I missed it, the article didn’t say whether the light comes on when the virus is active. If it comes on, then this is old news, a waste of time — that is, WE KNOW!

    I guess it doesn’t hurt to be reminded, but unless doing it without the light is possible, and now implemented, I don’t need to hear about it. 🙂

    1. Bryan,
      If you would kindly send us a list of all the things “you know”, we will stop putting up articles on those issues. I mean as long as you know, I guess the rest of the world is good to go.

      1. there is no indicator light on most laptops. Sometime ago, there was a virus that posed as FBI and activated your camera showing yourself on the screen and asking for $200 ransom to restore your computer. I take that windows sticker off the lower and stick it over the camera lens. They can’t hack a sticker….

        1. Lol, that’s mad – I’ve currently got that exact virus on one of my hard drives! Fail to them though ’cause I haven’t got a webcam 🙂 I did have a laptop with a built-in webcam but I swapped it for one that didn’t. Any easy way to get rid of that virus without doing a full disc wipe?

  3. I’ve had a piece of tape stuck over my webcam on my computer for the longest time now. Why do you think they now forcing people to by computers with webcams already installed in them? It makes it that much easier for the government to spy on you and it’s convenient for you because you don’t have to waste time hooking more wires up to your computer. That’s how they get you.

    1. I wouldn’t be caught dead without tape over the camera lens. Cell phones too. Nobody has mentioned that yet. Your cell phone is a damn 007 gotcha cam. Cell phones are more dangerous by far. Lens’ on both sides for Christ sake. You have about as much privacy as a criminal in the prison shower area.

      1. I’ve always got my phone cam covered, I use a piece of cut to size card inside the back case. It’s great to hear that other people are covering their cams 🙂 If everyone did this, prism would be back to only having audio to rely on

  4. I seriously doubt they can see anything through the duct tape that’s been over my webcam ever since I bought this computer.

  5. I keep my cell phone flat on the bed – all they could see is the ceiling. However, I have been known, usually just before going to bed naked, to sit on the cell phone momentarily – just in case Ms. Napolitano or any of her minions were watching.

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