Webcams are found in our laptops, smartphones, security systems and wherever we go. It helps us to stay in touch with our family and friends. But webcams are easily vulnerable to hacking and it can be used by hackers to spy on you.
Any webcam, whether it be in laptop or phones, can be hacked and used for webcam spying. Even if you are on a private network, without extra security, you webcam can be hacked.
Hackers can get webcam access using malicious software that lets them activate your webcam remotely, compromising your webcam privacy.
Given below are some of the most common ways how a webcam-hacking malware can get on your device.
Clicking on malicious links
Clicking on malicious links or downloading from untrusted sites can infect your device with malware. Think twice before clicking on any links to make sure that it is from a legitimate website. Look for suspicious names in the URL, which can be done by hovering over the link before clicking. Also use a trusted antivirus program to prevent malware from infecting your device.
Remote tech support
It is convenient to use a third-party remote tech support service, but hackers can take advantage of the access you grant them to your devices. The hacker can use remote access to insert malware you’re your system without your knowledge. Always inspect the tech support provider properly before using their service, or it is best to approach a local, certified brick-and-mortar specialist.
Out-of-date software makes any device an easy target to hacking. The vulnerabilities in the software that have been patched with an update are still exposed in older versions. The older the software is, the easier it is to hack by exploiting vulnerabilities.
Threats of webcam hacking
Hacking of course brings risks, but webcam hacking has some unique dangers. Webcams can be used by hackers to spy on you at your most unguarded moments. It can be used as a gateway for delivering additional malware, potentially exposing your personal data and financial information.
Most of the time we keep webcam-equipped devices in some of our most intimate spaces, so it is possible for a hacker to take compromising pictures of us. Later by using those pictures the hacker can try to extort victims for profit.
Unless you use a dedicated security, hackers can easily compromise your webcam and infiltrate your device for spying or spreading viruses.
Is webcam hacking common?
Webcam hacking is common as it is easy to do so. It is possible even for a beginner to hack a webcam with the help of Google search. Many victims may not even realize that their webcam has been hacked.
According to a recent study, it was found that over 15,000 webcams of many different models and software versions were unsecured and hence vulnerable to hacking.
How to check if your webcam has been hacked
- Check the webcam indicator light: if the webcam indicator light is on, even when you are not using a webcam, it might be an indication that your webcam has been hacked or it could be connected to a browser extension.
- Check your open apps and browser extensions, to find a suspect by deactivating one at a time.
- Check if your webcam process is running, if it is, reboot your device to check if your webcam activates automatically.
- If the process is not running, activate the webcam yourself and check whether you receive an error message stating that it is already in use. Do not depend on webcam indicator lights alone, as these lights can be configured to remain off even when the webcam is in use.
- Check for saved audio and video recordings in your webcam folder. If you find any that are not recorded by you, then there are chances that your webcam has been hacked.
- Use a good security tool to check whether your email address and any other accounts that use it have been compromised in a data breach. A hacker who has your login credentials can easily access your personal accounts and/or devices.
Things to do if your webcam has been hacked
If you find that your webcam has been hacked, then do the following to get the hackers out and prevent further security breaches.
- Unplug and/or disable your webcam device
The first thing to do is to disconnect the webcam from your device. In case of external webcam, just unplug it. Disable an internal webcam, which can be done by checking the settings on your device, turning off the camera, and denying all applications access to it.
- Change passwords
When your webcam is hacked, it is important to change your passwords, however strong it may be. If your webcam has password protection feature, enable it using a strong password. Also change the password on your device, as its security may now be compromised. Make it a practice to use a password generator to create a strong password that will protect against hackers in the future.
Protect yourself from webcam hackers
Even after enabling password protection feature for webcam, the hackers can still attain access to it. But your webcam can be still protected from hacking. Let’s take a look at the following measures that can be done to secure your webcam with even stronger protection.
- Update your webcam software
Webcam makers constantly updating their software for better security and privacy protection. Always keep it updated.
- Avoid suspicious links and downloads
Check for strange looking emails, links or attachments and if you find anything suspicious in it, do not click it. Always be vigilant as it is the best method to prevent phishing and other online attacks. Strong security software helps you to automatically detect and block malware and suspicious links.
- Use a VPN
Public Wi-Fi and other unsecured networks can be easily hacked. While using public Wi-Fi network, use a VPN to secure your device. Using a VPN on your device helps to hide your IP address from hackers and encrypt your traffic to prevent spying.
- Update security software
Along with your webcam and system software, update your security software as well to protect against hackers and malware.
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