Search one of these strings in Google. Chances are that you will find the live feed of an unsecured webcam.
intitle:”Live View / – AXIS” | inurl:view/view.shtml^
A webcam, your webcam, may be secured unlike any of the public ones you may find. However, there are hackers out there who can easily get access to your webcam and feed it to the world. It is not at all difficult for them. With a bit of code, hackers can access any piece of hardware on your computer, and a webcam is no different.
How serious are the consequences of exposing your webcam? Well, if you have children at home and you want to protect their privacy, you cannot be serious enough about this. Your webcam should be yours and you should have complete control over it. There was a recent investigation by BBC, about a Finnish hacker who hacks and sells people’s webcams for money. Here is the webcast.
The impact of this is heavy on all of us. These webcam feeds could easily be sold to online porn sites or to people who are into sick stuff. It is the privacy of people like you and we that is at stake. Hence, I have compiled this article to let you know how to secure your webcam from external threats.
Here’s another video from BBC, showing exactly how easy it is to hack into webcams of old, infrequently updated computers:
Pretty disturbing, ain’t it?
How to Secure Your Webcam?
Hackers will always try to find out your webcam and get control over it. You may not quite realize whether your webcam is in use or not. Most of the webcams come with the indicator LED that turns red or green or something when it is engaged. This should be known to you as the user. Here are the most important steps to do if you suspect your webcam could be under attack.
1. Update Your Software
Some computer technologies, such as Java, Flash, etc., can be used to directly control your webcam, and on most of these technologies, you need to provide permission to access your webcam. However, there are ways in which a hacker can work his way around this permission-giving. They can dupe unsuspecting users into giving permission through click-jacking or similar methods.
Updating your software is one of the most important things to do to stay secure. You may remember the recent security attack on Java, and the subsequent alarm. Old computers are extremely vulnerable and could in essence become part of botnets.
2. Use Security Software
We have recently covered some of the best and worst security apps for Android. You should check them out. For a regular PC, use something like Kaspersky, Norton, Trend Micro Titanium, or Bitdefender. I would personally recommend Norton and Kaspersky for antivirus and firewall. You also need an antimalware solution, and Malwarebytes is the best one for that. They have a free edition that you can run alongside your antivirus and firewall. As an additional thing, keep your security software updated all the time, just as you do with regular software.
3. Be Suspicious About Web Apps
You may come across a huge number of web apps on a day of browsing. You may cruise through the bad neighborhoods of the Net; you may come across websites and forums that follow unethical practices. You may be asked to run specific programs or apps that promise various things, such as a free virus scan, registry cleaning, computer protection, etc. These are possible click-jacking methods to make you install a malicious piece of software on your computer.
Make it a point to scan every file you download from the Web, and make sure you don’t open suspicious attachments even if they come from your friend. In short, do not execute a program or a script without verifying its source and scanning it with your antivirus program. Also, be suspicious about the people who promise technical help through the Internet. You may be asked to accept a remote connection or a screen sharing option. Do not give permission to these setups unless you are sure.
4. Wireless Security
If you are using wireless router at home for a Wi-Fi setup, please enable proper security on the router. If you are using Wi-Fi from a public hotspot, you should be wary of your situation. Use a solution like Wifisugar to protect your computer from public hotspot hackers.
These are some of the most basic things to do to secure your webcam. However, two of the most important that you definitely have to do and are in your control are: first, not placing the webcam in a private place like your bedroom; and second, covering your webcam with something like a strip of electrical tape or disconnecting it from the computer altogether when you are not using it.
Another important thing that I would like most of the readers to consider is getting some information about how hackers work and what technologies and software you use are vulnerable to attacks. This information will keep your computer secure from every threat.