Many people fall into two groups when it comes to Internet security: those who don’t care about it or those who care a little too much. While reaching a happy medium may seem difficult, it’s a task that’s very doable as long as you bother to stay up to date with current vulnerabilities. Past and recent news tells us that our webcams are vulnerable to hacking, so you’re probably wondering how seriously you should take those warnings. Should you be worried?
The Risks of Webcam Use
The benefits of using webcams to stay in touch with loved ones are priceless. However, the chances of people hacking into these devices and spying on you are a real risk. Laptops these days come equipped with a webcam already. You should definitely be aware that it can be hacked and that someone could be spying on you without your knowledge.
How Webcams Are Attacked
Many users get Trojan horse attacks by opening infected files or attachments, especially received by email. Doing this exposes your computer to malware which allows exploiters to control your PC remotely. To ensure you don’t fall victim to these vulnerabilities, here are some tips to remember:
- Never open suspicious attachments. Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to your security. Think twice before clicking an odd attachment or those found in emails offering anything for “free”. Be sceptical of sources you’re not familiar with and stay vigilant.
- Use a firewall. Whether you’re using Windows or Mac, your system should have a firewall installed. Make sure it’s turned on by checking your system properties.
- Think twice before accepting tech help from strangers. This might seem like a given, but it’s easy to forget when you’re frustrated with your computer. Most people would jump at the chance when someone offers tech help, but make sure it’s someone you trust.
- Check the indicator light. If you’re using an external webcam, they tend to emit a red light that indicates when it’s powered on. For computers with internal webcams, these mostly have LED indicators. Find out where these indicators are and check them periodically.
Ultimately there is a very easy fix, just cover that lens up! Put a piece of tape or a post-it note over it. I never understood why webcam and laptop manufacturers still haven’t designed a simple sliding panel to cover the lens when not in use. This helps ensure no one is looking when you are not using your webcam.