We all have some friend that puts a Post-it note over his laptop’s webcam, or turns his desktop webcam to the side, in fear of being watched. This idea, which at first can sound paranoid, is actually an important security measure. Remote access tools, known as RAT, are very easy to use, and have become popular among hackers, allowing them to access the webcam of any infected computer at any time. Because of this, it’s important that you know of ways to prevent it.
RATs (Remote Administration Tools) are a type of malware that allows the hacker to control someone else’s computer remotely, and that, in most cases, is undetectable. The fact that they are so easy to use has made them very popular on the Internet: The hacker just has to install the program, and then will be able to control the interface of the infected computer, including, among limitless other options, the webcam.
When they hack into a computer, the hacker can turn on the camera without the user being aware of it, and then can record or photograph the individual. This becomes very complicated if the victim is ever nude in front of the screen. Moreover, this type of malware doesn’t just control the camera, but also can steal passwords, and listen to conversations while the microphone is activated, which is when that innocent Post-it note over the camera won’t do you any good.
The intrusion provides complete access to all the content on the system: documents, photographs, passwords, email, and social networks. The victim becomes a “slave” under the bonds of blackmail, as they can put your private information on the Internet if you don’t obey the hacker’s demands. These can vary between practical jokes for fun just to see the victim’s reaction, or forcing the victim to get naked in front of the camera.
Avoiding these types of trojans isn’t easy, and even if you are careful with unknown files and insecure websites, you may not be thinking about it when you click on a link that a co-worker sent you in your email. Once one user takes the bait, all his circles are easy to get to, also. Be careful with untrustworthy .exe and attached files.
That being said, you can avoid your webcam from being compromised if you take some security measures that will help reduce the risk. It is best to:
Disconnect the webcam
Almost all models are equipped with a light that turns one when the camera is working. If the light is on, and you haven’t activated the webcam, someone is probably spying on you. What do you do then? Immediately disconnect from the Internet, and run your antivirus software. In the event that the camera is integrated into your computer, such as on a laptop, the best option is to keep it deactivated.
To deactivate it, if you have Windows 7, you have to go to the Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Device Manager. On the list of connected hardware, search for the “Imaging devices” menu. Here you will find the name of your webcam, which you can temporarily deactivate by right clicking on the option.
Activate and keep your firewall and antivirus up-to-date
As we have already explained on other occasions, checking your system’s firewall status and any updates for your antivirus help you avoid hackers from gaining access to your network. The firewall’s function is to block any unauthorized access and communications, which is why it is highly recommended that you have it properly configured. To activate it, or check its status, go to the Control Panel > System and Security > Firewall.
In regards to the antivirus, checking if it is updated and working properly also helps protect your webcam from being hacked by certain malware. When you download a suspicious file, or install a dangerous program, your antivirus will immediately notify you of the threat that your system will face if you proceed with the download or program execution. Don’t ignore your antivirus when it comes to possible infected files if you aren’t sure where they are from.
In either case, you can use free antivirus programs to protect you.
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Anti-Spyware software on Uptodown | http://www.en.uptodown.com/antispyware
Use a program to block your webcams
Even if you keep all of these options up-to-date and in good shape, it isn’t always sufficient. The best thing is to have a program that blocks your webcam while you aren’t using it to avoid possible spy attacks, which you can do with CamBlocker. This program directly blocks any unauthorized input signal for you, and protects your webcam from any intent to activate it by requiring you to enter a password.
Protect your privacy from the clutches of any computer spy, and breath easy with the security of knowing that you won’t be spied on by strangers.
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