The odds are pretty good that the device you’re reading this on has a camera. The odds are also pretty good that camera can be easy hacked.
In fact, Cassidy Wolf, 2013’s Miss Teen USA, learned just how vulnerable we all are to this type of hacking. Here, she explains to CNN how she was blackmailed by a hacker who took nude photos of her using her laptop’s webcam:
Unfortunately, this type of hack is not difficult to commit. In fact, a piece of malware called Nightshades was developed that allowed anyone to infect a target computer and take control on its webcam. And, Nightshades was surprisingly easy to obtain, selling for just $40 online!
Here are the basic steps you need to take to protect yourself and your family from this threat (from the experts at We Live Security):
When it comes to your personal computer – be it Mac or PC – make sure that you are always running the latest anti-virus and other security software, have kept your software patches updated, and be alert about opening unsolicited email attachments and clicking on potentially dangerous links.
Also, if you have internet-accessible cameras elsewhere in your house – such as baby monitors or CCTV – be aware that many such devices are sold with default or weak passwords that are child’s play for hackers to crack. Make sure to configure with unique, hard-to-guess passwords just as you would for, say, your bank account.
In addition, it should go without saying that you should also update your webcam’s firmware regularly to protect against newly discovered security holes and vulnerabilities.
Furthermore, although it can be circumvented in some cases, keep a keen eye out for the webcam’s LED lighting up unexpectedly as it may imply unauthorised access by an application – perhaps being controlled remotely by a hacker or peeping tom.
Finally – cover it and unplug it. If you can, disconnect the webcam if you only use it infrequently but at the very least put a Post-It note over the lens so you can choose when you want to be “on camera” and when not.
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Photo by Courtney Carmody licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.
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