Should you be covering your webcam?

14th November 2017

Webcams have been a security risk for years, hackers have been using them to record and take photos, so surely we should be covering them up?

The debate came into the open last year when a picture of Mark Zuckerberg went viral after an eagle-eyed user spotted tape across the webcam and microphone of the billionaire’s laptop. Former FBI director James Comey also stated that all US Government offices cover the webcams to protect employee privacy.

If you’re not, however, a multi-billionaire or the director of the FBI, is covering your webcam and microphone really necessary? Most experts say yes. It is the cheapest way to protect yourself against hackers when using laptops or desktops.

According to a hacker, access to a webcam costs around 1 dollar, meaning hackers can gain access to multiple webcams for a minuscule amount of money. The main and most obvious reason for webcam access is to take photos/videos of the person and sell them, making it especially important to protect children against this.

In 2014, a website came to light that streamed 73,000 feeds across the World with 11,000 being in America alone. The website, Insecam, used footage from IP cameras, that could be easily gained online when they have either no password or a weak/default password. They said it was for the purpose of bringing awareness to people who haven’t secured their devices, but some of the cameras were still illegally accessed, the website now only uses filtered cameras that don’t invade people’s personal life.

An argument against covering them, is the average household has around 9 devices with cameras on them, this includes smartphones, tablets, computers and even smart TVs, and it would be extreme if you were to take precautions on all devices.

The main resolution here is to ensure your camera devices have strong passwords on them, and never leave a default password on them.

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