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  • You've probably seen people cover their webcams,

  • but should you cover your webcam?

  • Former FBI director, James Comey,

  • thinks you should.

  • Do you still have a piece of tape over your cameras at home?

  • Heck yeah, heck yeah.

  • Edward Snowden, and even Mark Zuckerberg, appear to cover theirs.

  • It could protect you from attacks like the one Miss Teen USA experienced in 2013,

  • in which a man secretly spied on her, and recorded her, and then blackmailed her.

  • But you're not a head of state, and you're also not a celebrity.

  • So do you really need to worry about someone

  • spying on you through your laptop's camera?

  • Well, yeah.

  • In 2013, a hacker told the BBC

  • that access to a woman's webcam cost about a dollar,

  • and that he had access to 500 computers.

  • That's crazy!

  • So, to find out how common these attacks are,

  • and whether we should be worried,

  • I talked to Tod Beardsley,

  • the research director at cyber security and penetration testing company, Rapid7.

  • There are occasionally bugs in web-based technologies

  • that allow attackers to open your webcam and record video on it.

  • They're pretty far and few in between.

  • He explained to me that these vulnerabilities often show up in Flash and Java,

  • and at this point, there might even been one in html5.

  • What really sucks is that you won't know if a website is affected.

  • Also, hackers can turn off your webcam's light

  • so you won't actually know whether you've been compromised.

  • That's not great!

  • Anything that wants you to click in a very specific place in your browser,

  • that would be very suspect.

  • You see it a lot more now with location services,

  • like, "click here to allow location service",

  • that's typically the control on webcams as well.

  • There's not a lot you can do about it other than

  • (clicks tongue to mimic sticky tape)

  • Okay, so, at least tape will stop someone from spying on you visually,

  • that's a relief.

  • But how effective is covering our webcams, and should we do it?

  • Having it covered is a super cheap, super easy thing to do,

  • that also doesn't get you a lot,

  • but at least it makes you feel better, right?

  • And it is a signal to other people that you think about security.

  • Okay, so Tod says it can't hurt,

  • but covering your laptop camera

  • doesn't actually address the much bigger risk of your cellphone camera and microphone.

  • Microphone hacking is probably just as creepy and incriminating as a video.

  • I can record conversations in the room,

  • that piece of tape is not gonna stop me.

  • We actually tested this.

  • (cellphone ringing)

  • Hey.

  • Hey, okay, so can you try to talk to me with your phone away from your face?

  • Sure.

  • (microphone static)

  • This is about how loudly I would talk if I was having a conversation with someone in a room.

  • Okay, so I can hear you pretty perfectly

  • meaning, if a hacker had hacked into your microphone,

  • even if you had tape over it, he or she would still be able to hear what you're saying.

  • I hate to break it to you all,

  • but the reality is that cameras and microphones are everywhere now;

  • we have smart home speakers, cellphones, laptops, smart refrigerators,

  • and even voice-enabled TV remotes listening to us at all times.

  • Unless you're going to tape over,

  • or physically disable every one of those cameras or microphones,

  • you're still going to be at risk.

  • But, if nothing else, we can at least prevent webcam attacks with tape.

  • There is some superstitious comfort you get,

  • because you can see the camera sticker all the time,

  • you're looking at it and think, "I'm doing it right".

  • It's a little bit self-congratulatory to put the tape on the camera,

  • but it does ultimately also mean that you're looking at security control all the time,

  • so you might be thinking more about how long should my password be?

  • Should I tell those people my password?

  • Shall I click on this link in the cPanel?

  • I think that is probably valuable.

  • So go ahead, put tape over your camera.

  • It might not stop hackers from listening through your microphone,

  • but it'll at least make us a little bit better,

  • and prevent them from watching us sleep at night.

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B1 US tape webcam microphone camera cover hacker

Should you cover your webcam?

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    Samuel posted on 2018/03/03
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