Should you tape off your webcam?
Do you need to tape off your webcam? Does taping a little piece of paper over the eye of your cam really work in locking out hackers and pervs?
You have probably seen a lot of people cover up their webcam. Not only your technology-fearing parents and grandparents seem to be bitten by the webcam-covering bug, but even former FBI-director James Comey thinks you "should absolutely cover your webcam, heck yeah". Awch. Should we be scared? I mean, Facebook's Zuchi and even Snowden have seen to be covering up their webcams.
But wait a minute... we are not FBI directors, whistle-blowers or multi-billionaires owning the largest social media network EVER. Why would ANYONE ever want to hack our cams to look at our boring lives? Should we really be worrying about this happening? Euhm... yeah. Pretty much.
And this is why: because people are creepy as shit. A hacker told the BBC in 2013 (and technology has changed a lot in that time - and not for the best) that getting access to the webcam of a woman will cost him about $1 and that he had access to the cams of at least 500 women. SAY WHAT?
But then again: are those attacks really common enough or is this just fake-news fearmongering. It might be a bit of both, but there occasionally are bugs in web-based technology that will allow hackers to open your webcam and even record the video on it. There aren't many of these bugs, but when they show up, it is often in Flash, Java and maybe even in HTML5.
And if you think that "you will notice" because "your webcam light will be on", think again: hackers can easily turn the little light off and record you while you do not even know. It is also very hard to determine if a website is affected or not. Dead giveaways are requests for location services (on websites that do not seem to really need them), and pages that ask you to click in a really specific place.
And if you are compromised, there isn't a lot you can do about it, except to stick on a little piece of tape. Problem solved, right?
Well, not really. In this digital day and age, we are literally surrounded by camera's and microphones people can easily hack. From tablets to phones and even the baby monitor: from the moment it is connected to the network, it can be compromised. Hackers are able to record your conversations through he microphone of your smartphone - even when you are not using it, or follow your every move through your security system.
Brrr. Creepy right. But we cannot start taping off every lens and every microphone - which won't even work. The only thing that seems to do the trick is to be cautious in the first place: do not click on weird buttons and do not give websites - and hackers, too much access to your personal data such as your location.
So what about taping off your webcam? Because it now seems a bit futile, right? Well, go ahead and tape off your webcam. In the end, it reminds you to be cautious on the internet.