Laptops, Smart TVs, Phones, everything comes with a camera nowadays. We need the camera for our Zoom meetings and for communicating with our loved ones. But web cameras are almost always a target for hackers as well. Scammers, hackers, and even abusers will often hack into your webcam to monitor you and use the footage […]
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Laptops, Smart TVs, Phones, everything comes with a camera nowadays. We need the camera for our Zoom meetings and for communicating with our loved ones. But web cameras are almost always a target for hackers as well. Scammers, hackers, and even abusers will often hack into your webcam to monitor you and use the footage for extortion if possible.
Steps to check if your webcam has been hacked
Most web cameras nowadays come with a light indicator. This light turns on if the camera is going to use. You should always purchase a web camera that has a physical indicator. Keep in mind that hackers can disable software-based indicators. Newer versions of Android and iOS now have a visible notification for when your camera is in use.
In most cases, however, it is quite difficult to actually find out if someone hacked your camera or not. This is why you should always take steps to protect your privacy before someone violates it. But worry not, there is still hope. There are still ways to find out if a hacker has access to your webcam.
Is your camera light turning on?
If your webcam has a camera light and it turns on without you using it, then someone may have access to it. Most camera lights are part of the inbuilt circuit that will always turn on if something accesses the camera. At least that is how it is supposed to be. If the camera light is not turning on and you still have reason to believe that someone has access to your webcam, then you should search on the Internet to see if the camera light on your laptop or webcam is trustworthy.
Run a malware scan
You can download software like Malwarebytes to run a free complete scan on your computer. This will reveal any malware that you accidentally downloaded. It does not matter who hacked you. The only way they can actually access your camera is through malware. Abusers often install stalker were applications on their victims’ computers to monitor them. Thankfully, most of these applications do register as malware.
If you have reason to believe that someone is stalking you and monitoring you, then you should report it to the local law enforcement agencies as soon as possible. You should also document the process of finding and removing the malware in case you need it as evidence.
Look for unknown applications or extensions
Simply go through all the programs installed on your computer and see if you recognize anything that should not be there. You should also take a look at your browser extensions and remove any extension that you do not actually use. Browser extensions can request to access your camera and so can desktop applications. Making both of these an effortless way for attackers to gain access to your camera.
People can install applications on your computer when you are not around. Especially if they have access to an administrator account. This is why you should not leave your work computer unattended and unlocked. Someone else can easily install something within a minute while you head out for a quick bathroom break.
What may happen if your webcam has been hacked
People hack webcams for all sorts of reasons. A scammer might want access to your webcam so they can record sensitive footage and then later use it for extortion. Hackers and surveillance agencies might want to know about your daily activities. An abusive partner might want to keep an eye on you and control you.
If you know that someone hacked your webcam, then you need to take quick steps. Firstly, to ensure that they can no longer access the live feed and secondly, that it does not happen again.
Reset or reinstall your operating system
Malware is not easy to remove, especially if a determined attacker installed it. Sometimes even if you uninstall it or remove it from your computer, simply restarting can bring it back in full force.
In a situation like this, we recommend a scorched earth policy. Completely factory reset your operating system to ensure that all unidentified and untrustworthy software is no more. Anything short of a scorched earth policy can potentially make matters worse for you as the attacked might find out that you attempted to remove their malware.
Odds are high that an attacker will try to use the captured footage for extortion. In this case it is better to think about what they recorded. Doing so gives you time to assess the situation objectively. Scammers rely heavily on the surprise factor and often times their threats are not as dangerous as they make them out to be.
Scammers cannot really use webcam footage for anything else. Abusive partners and surveillance agencies? They might want to use it for more than just extortion. Keep in mind that there are multiple types of abusive partners out there. Not all of them want to control you.
Scammers may use it for extortion.
Abusive partners may use it for controlling, threatening, monitoring, manipulating, or any other number of abusive behaviors.
Government agencies might use it to monitor your activity.
They might have voice recordings as well
Someone with web camera access might also have recordings from your microphone. So not only will they know to see you were doing, but they might also have the sound that goes with it. This is a factor that catches some people off guard.
When someone can gain access to your webcam, it does not take a lot of technical expertise to also get access to your microphone. So, if you were hoping that they do not have the voice recordings that go with it, then maybe you should think twice and prepare for that.
How to protect your webcam from being hacked
Taking precautions before someone hacks you is the best way to protect yourself in the long run. Even if someone already hacked you, you should take notes to ensure that it does not happen again in the future. We live at a time when it is safe to assume that every device you purchase will connect to the Internet in one way or another. While it does make our life more convenient, it also opens us up for different kinds of attacks. Let us go through some of the ways you can protect yourself from a hacker that is after your web camera.
Only buy web cameras with a built-in light
They do not create all webcams equally. There are plenty of webcams out there wearing the tracker can actually disable the activation light. So, you should do your due diligence and research before purchasing a webcam.
Cover your webcam with a tape
Even Mark Zuckerberg covers his webcam with a piece of tape. If the brains behind Facebook cannot protect their own laptop, then why should we trust ours? You might be thinking that, sure, Mark Zuckerberg definitely is a target for hackers, so he needs the additional protection of a piece of tape, right? Nope. He also has the technical knowledge to avoid scammers and hackers in the first place! Yet he chooses to cover his webcam.
Do not install software from untrustworthy websites
People fall victim to malware and ransomware attacks all the time thanks to the urge to get something for free. Also, websites often advertise themselves as having free software that would otherwise cost you hundreds of dollars. What’s more, if something sounds too good to be true, you should try to avoid it in the first place.
Stay safe on the Internet with VPN Proxy Master
While all of these tips will help you protect your web camera from hackers, it will not protect you from people who are interested in your online activities. By using VPN Proxy Master, you can make your online activity completely safe and secure. VPN Proxy Master uses the latest encryption technology to ensure that all communications are impossible to decipher by anyone.
Whether you are trying to hide from an abusive partner or simply trying to hide your online activity from government agencies, no worries, VPN Proxy Master has your back.
In addition to all the security, VPN Proxy Master also lets you access content libraries of other countries. For example, if you do not live in a country supported by Disney Plus, you can instantly sign up right now. That is to say, you can get access to all the Disney Plus content you want. The latest Marvel movies and Disney content is nothing more than a single subscription away.
VPN Proxy Master also lets you bypass all blocks set up by your government. So, if you want to use YouTube while living in China, then VPN Proxy Master is the service for you. With a vast network of servers all across the world, you can be sure that you will be able to access the content regardless of where they limit it to.
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