Beware! Your Web Cam may be watching you.

  • CERT Admin
  • Mon Jun 15 2015
  • Cyber Guardian Blog

VOLUME 47 




The most appearing cameras become the less we’re aware they are even there. They glare out at us inanely from our laptops, phones, Tablets, just waiting to be switched on. But what would you feel if they were turn on by someone else without your prior knowledge? It would be the greatest violations of privacy.Below are some ways to prevent from webcam takeovers. 


How hackers gain access to the webcams 

A recent study mentioned many different websites containing live feeds from webcams. There are different types of webcam hacks that have happened over the past few years. General process is to identify a security vulnerability in the webcam software or the hardware itself. Most attackers would use a Trojan or RATS to access your device. Once your device is infected with malicious program the attacker can take control of the webcam at any time.

Another technique is Clickjacking, where it compromised a website to make a Flash permission button hidden. The website then places this hidden button over a likely-to-be-clicked area such as the Download button on a file. Abruptly, the victim thinks all they’re doing is downloading a file, but has recklessly given authority to the Flash app to use the webcam.


Preventing Your Webcam from Being Hacked 



So below are some ways to prevent from webcam takeovers. 


Don’t click suspicious links and attachments 

Be careful when opening attachments in email when you don’t know the sender. Beware when downloading files like free music, movies and torrents from the internet. And be cautious when clicking links you found in social media.

 

Use a good antivirus software and equip your computer with two-way firewall 

Install a security software that provides protection against malware and spyware. Most antivirus software can detect suspicious activities and processes running in your computer. And also using a Firewall is an efficient way to ensure traffic going in and out of the device is legitimate.  


Use webcam protection software 

This is an efficient method to stay safe without doing extra work. Because these software notify you whenever the webcam is used or running in background without your permission. But you must use a trusted and verified software for this. 


Update firmware 

Webcams, like any other electronics devices are controlled by firmware. Attackers mostly use vulnerabilities in firmware to exploit webcams. So it’s a good precaution to update firmware regularly.  



Cover it, unplug it

If you are looking an easy way to prevent webcam snooping, this is the simplest method. You can cover your webcam by taping a piece of paper when you are not using it. You can unplug it if it’s a separate webcam.

 

Stay alert

Normally all webcams have LED light to indicate whether the webcam is powered on or not. So it’s good to be alert when you see the light blinking when you’re not using it.


Conclusion

Most importantly don’t be scared. Just because there is a possibility to hack into your webcam, it doesn’t mean it’s likely to be hacked. But it’s always good to be aware of those kind of situations. It’s better to be safe by taking necessary precautions.



By Charuka Senal Damunupola

Charuka is an undergraduate of National School of Business Management who is currently following BSc (Honours) Computer Science offered by University College Dublin Ireland. Currently he is working as Intern - Information Security Engineer at Sri Lanka CERT|CC 

Last updated: Mon Jun 15 2015