Did you know that your webcam could have been hacked? Someone could be watching you through your webcam right now! This definitely sounds scary, but there is no need to be alarmed. Not everyone has been subject to webcam hacks. But if you have an unsecured webcam, you are certainly at risk. Moreover, it is possible that they will try to blackmail you after they have observed you for some time. There have been some instances where webcam hacks have been portrayed in media. Not much is yet known about how they are perpetrated. However, we know that hackers have multiple ways of injecting malware into your device. These methods give them access to your entire computer. This means once they have webcam access, they will also have access to all your data.
Checking the Integrity of Your Webcam
So the question becomes how can you check if your camera is safe? Further, how can you keep it that way? If you believe that someone might be getting access to your webcam without your consent, read to know what to do.
Step 1: Look at the Indicator Light
The biggest sign that your webcam has been hacked is if its light is on even if you haven’t turned it on. However, this is not always indicative of a webcam hack. It might be that another program is using your webcam and you just don’t know about it.
You might think that if the light of the webcam is on, it means that someone is spying on you. While there are chances of this happening, it could also be because of a browser extension.
The simplest way to test this is to simply reboot your device and relaunch your browser. After doing this, if your webcam light turns on again, some extension is likely at work. To know which one, you will have to turn off all of them one by one.
Applications can also cause a turned-on webcam. For this, you’ll need to open each application one by one and see if the webcam reacts to a particular app. This will take extra time but it will ensure that you’re not a victim of webcam hacking.
And if none of this works and you see your webcam lighting up on its own, be wary. You just might be getting spied on.
Step 2: Consider Whether Your Webcam Process is On
Bring up the Task Manager. Select the Processes tab to find the list of all processes running at the moment. See if the webcam utility feature is present or not. If it’s on and you’re not using it, it MIGHT mean it’s hacked. It’s not a sure sign though. This might just be a result of default settings. To check if this is the case, restart your device and recheck the Task Manager for the webcam utility.
Step 3: Examine If Some Apps are Using the Webcam
Try running the webcam. If you get an error message, there can be two reasons. Either your webcam is being used by another app or it has been hacked. You can check out which app is using your webcam through the Process Explorer tool. And if you use a Mac, go to Terminal to find the same.
Step 4: Try Checking for Malware
If you are sure that your webcam is hacked, you need to run a malware scan. Chances are that your machine is already infected. It’s best to scan it using a good antivirus.
Steps to Prevent Webcam Hacks
Contrary to what you might think, preventing webcam hacks is rather simple. Follow the given points to make sure your webcam remains secure.
#1: Turn On Your Firewall
Firewalls are the first line of defense against any malicious software. A firewall constantly monitors online traffic and prevents any suspect things from crossing over to your device.
In order to find the firewall settings on your Windows device, visit the Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Firewall > Turn Windows Firewall On or Off.
For Mac, go to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall.
#2: Get an Antivirus
There are several antivirus solutions on the market but make sure you get the best ones. A good antivirus should have a range of advanced options for security. Once you have it on your device, your antivirus will do the job of cleaning up your device. Most antivirus programs are free to use, too.
#3: Don’t Fall for Phishing Scams
It is very common for hackers to pretend to be a support agent and give you a call. They will tell you that something is wrong with your device or program and they need to fix it remotely. If you didn’t request remote assistance, this is most likely a scam. In the guise of remote assistance, they might inject malware into your system.
#4: Stay Vigilant
A very common malware attack method is through compromised links. Such links are usually sent through emails. So, if you get emails from unknown people, do not open them.
#5: Be Careful When Using Wi-Fi networks
Public Wi-Fi’s can be honeypots set up by hackers. It’s really easy to set up a hotspot and then monitor the data that’s being transmitted on it. If you like accessing free public Wi-Fi’s, you should be aware of the risks involved.
To stay protected on a public Wi-Fi, make sure you use a VPN. A virtual private network will encrypt your traffic and your data will be safe even if someone is trying to monitor it.
#6: Conceal your webcam
Put a tape on it. Yeah! This low-tech trick works just as well as any of the most sophisticated ones. It is very easy to do and you can entirely depend on it. If you think tape is just too low for you, there are options in the market.
The idea of being watched without your knowledge is disturbing. Always be sure that you have control over your privacy and security. And if you feel something is off, just follow the steps given above to resolve the problem.