Last Updated on March 18, 2021 by Staff Writer
Can hackers see you through your webcam? It is scary to know that a stranger can be watching you while you innocently browse the internet.
Although we have singled out computer webcams in the attack, this also occurs on any device that has a camera and access to the internet.
Devices that are vulnerable
This means all the following devices may be vulnerable to the attack:
- Smart TVs
- Security cameras
- Other IoT devices
Nowadays, these devices are more sophisticated and integrated with each other. This means you need to be more vigilant in protecting yourself from webcam spying.
In September 2020, Facebook was accused of spying on Instagram users through their phone cameras.
Although Facebook blamed this on a bug, it clearly shows that the system is not to be trusted and this kind of attack is possible.
How the attack works
One of the main ways in which hackers gain control of the victim’s device is by using malware.
Malware is delivered to the device through via email or freeware.
The hacker sends emails to the victim with links to malicious sites or with attachments that release the malware once opened.
In both cases, the victim is tricked into installing a Remote Access Trojan (RAT).
- Note: If you want to enhance your email security, make sure you read an article I wrote on ways to secure your email.
Malware enables the attacker to have full control of the device, including its hardware.
In addition, apart from accessing your camera, the hacker can view everything in your browsing history or even files on your device.
Think of this as the Yin side of remote access by tech support where you grant them temporary control of your computer when you have a problem.
How to prevent hacking of your camera
Hackers always try to find clever ways to take over your device and compromise your online security.
Therefore you need to actively implement ways to protect yourself from these attacks.
The following are the various ways block infiltration of your webcam or other smart camera system.
1. Email security
Avoid clicking links in unsolicited emails as it’s one way in which hackers install malware in your device.
You can learn ways to secure your email so that hackers don’t target you when they look for victims.
Protonmail is one email service that is excellent in making sure all your email communications have end-to-end encryption and other security features.
2. Avoid freeware from dubious sites
As highlighted before, if you have a habit of installing freeware or cracked apps on your device, you risk introducing malware.
Hackers inject malicious code in the software and when you install it, the malware is run together with the software you installed..
In some cases, you don’t even realize that you have been attacked.
3. Disable the camera when not in use
If your device has an option to disable the camera, you should do so when you don’t need it.
In some devices, there is a cover to protect the camera lens and also to prevent capture of footage when unintentionally activated.
Mark Zuckerberg is well-known for covering the camera with an opaque tape and this also works.
4. Change default passwords on IoT devices
Don’t leave default settings on IoT devices, like security cameras.
Hackers can easily access these settings online and take over your device.
The best way is to hire a security specialist to properly configure the devices so that they are inpenetrable.
You can make use of an IoT scanner to give you insight into how you should fix security issues.
5. Use a secure antivirus
An antivirus is very crucial in detecting any malware that infects your device, be it a computer or phone.
You need to make sure the virus database is kept up to date so that any new attacks are detected.
Karspesky is one antivirus we recommend to keep all your devices secure.
6. Keep your software up to date
Cybercriminals utilize vulnerabilities in your device’s software to gain access and wreak havoc.
Software developers roll out updates to address any security issues and add other features.
If you don’t update your operating system, apps and other software, you are open to attack by hackers.
The best way is to set the update of software to automatic instead of doing it manually.
7. Turn on your device’s firewall
A firewall helps keep hackers out of your device.
All incoming and outgoing traffic passes through the firewall so anything out of the ordinary is easy to block.
You can easily turn on your computer’s firewall in the settings.
8. Use a reliable VPN
A hacker is able to access your device remotely by using the IP address to mount an attack with precision.
However, that is not possible if you use a VPN because it masks your IP address.
In addition, it encrypts all your traffic so that hackers cannot identify your device on the web.
That way you are protected even when using public WiFi.
- Our best VPN of choice is NordVPN because it has numerous security features.
9. Reliable tech support
Who carries out repairs of your smart devices? If you don’t use professional technicians, then there is a risk of:
- Shoddy job leaving security settings compromised
- Intentional installation of malware
Always hire someone you trust and who knows what he or she’s doing.
If you have sensitive files on your device, make sure you protect them with a strong password first before giving remote access to a technician.
Change your password frequently and let a password manager generate strong passwords automatically.
10. Make sure you WiFi network is secure
Devices like a WiFi Pineapple are used by hackers to gain access to unsecured WiFi networks.
Make sure your router is properly configured to prevent unauthorized access.
A VPN also provides an extra layer of security to prevent hackers from gaining access to your network.
Once hackers successfully log into your network, they can take over security cameras, webcams and anything connected to the network.
In 2019, the FBI advised people to put black tape over cameras of their smart TVs because of a high risk of webcam spying.
How can you tell your camera has been hacked
Hackers have devised clever ways to carry out their attack without being noticed.
However, if you see the following, you may be under attack:
- Webcam light turns on when you are not using the camera. Hackers now have ways to keep the light off even when the camera is active.
- Changes to files, unknown software or even cursor movements you have not initiated
- In some cases, when you run a security scan you detect malware
Spying through your webcam is real and you need to take heed of the above measures to prevent that from happening.
If you want to use the internet securely with zero hassles, use a VPN.
With a VPN hackers only see encrypted traffic and it’s difficult to pin-point your location.
NordVPN is a VPN I recommend and it comes with:
- 30-day free-trial
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Strong encryption
- Zero logs
- No DNS leaks
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Are you following any of these security measures? Leave comments below and support us by sharing this valuable content with your friends on social media.