Webcam hacking: How to know if someone may be spying on you through your webcam – We Live Security
Camfecting doesn’t ‘just’ invade your privacy – it could seriously impact your mental health and wellbeing. Here’s how to keep an eye on your laptop camera.
Our 24/7 digital lives mean we’re increasingly sitting in front of a screen, whether that’s a laptop, a smartphone or another device. That usually means we’re also sitting in front of a camera. Some of us rarely used this feature, until the pandemic hit and saw homebound workers and bored students alike switch on their webcams to stay connected with the rest of the world. But while online cameras can provide a lifeline to friends and family, and a near-ubiquitous way of participating in meetings, they also put us at risk.
Whether it’s financially motivated cybercriminals, stalkers, bullies, trolls or just plain weirdos, the tools and knowledge to hack webcams have never been easier to find online. That puts the onus on us all to become more aware of the risks, and take steps to improve our online privacy and safety. A lot of it is common sense. Some of it needs to be learned behavior.
The truth is that “camfecting” doesn’t just invade your privacy. It could seriously impact your mental health and wellbeing. For every creep that’s been arrested and jailed, there are many more still stalking the digital world looking for victims.
How does webcam hacking happen?
When it comes to cyberthreats, our attackers often hold most of the cards. They get to choose when to strike, and how. And they need only get lucky once to make a return on their investment of time and resources. A cybercrime underground economy worth trillions annually offers them all the tooling and know-how needed to launch attacks.
Here are a few ways they might be planning to invade your privacy:
- Remote Access Trojans (RATs) are a special type of malware which allows an attacker to remotely control a victim’s machine or device. In so doing they could turn the camera on without activating the light, and record and then send the video files to themselves. The same software can be used to log keystrokes, enabling them to steal passwords, banking details and more. RATs can be deployed like any other malware via:
- links or malicious attachments in phishing emails
- malicious links in messaging apps or on social media
- legitimate-looking but malicious mobile applications
- Vulnerability exploits are theoretically another way that hackers could hijack webcams to invade people’s privacy. Software contains errors because it is written by humans. And some of these errors can be exploited to help malicious actors do things like remotely compromise devices. Security researchers and hackers are in a never-ending race to find these first. Apple recently paid a researcher over US$100,000 for a vulnerability he found in macOS which could have enabled webcam hacking, for example. If we don’t keep our PCs, Macs and devices up-to-date with the latest software and OS versions, the bad guys could still exploit them.
Exposed home security devices are a slightly different case, but still represent a major privacy risk. These are the CCTV cameras, baby monitors and other devices which are increasingly part of the smart home. Yet although they’re designed to keep our families safer, they could be hijacked by attackers. This could happen via vulnerability exploits, as above, or it could be done simply by …….