With the rise of cyberattacks every year, webcams are becoming the point of entry to your private spaces and a tool that can allow criminals to blackmail or threaten you. Some basic measures can be taken to counter these attacks and safeguard yourself.
In the past 25 years, we have seen the exponential rise of the internet and every other digital technology; this societal obsession has overtaken every industry and touches on every aspect of the human experience. More and more of our lives have been on-boarded to the digital realm; going even a day without your computer and a proper internet connection seems unfathomable to many people.
It’s as though we have extended a part of our identity to digital counterparts, whether that is in the form of memories, our financial and health records, our interactions with other humans and the world at large, and even the information we consume to form our world view. These extensions into the digital realm leave us vulnerable, as it is becoming more difficult by the day to enjoy any real sense of privacy or protection from unethical entities.
This vulnerability can be exploited by proficient hands and even the big guys (the White House, Apple Cloud storage etc.) are not fully safe from it, let alone us common folks! Millions of people are affected by cyberattacks every year and this number is only expected to grow as the proliferation of the internet increases. Not only could these attacks open you up to financial scamming and identity theft, but they could also surrender total control of the camera in your computer, bringing the hackers directly into your living room and workspace.
Thus, it becomes imperative that you take your safety into your own hands; educate yourself on how you can be exploited and take the necessary action to ensure that you and your loved ones are protected!
Is covering your webcam being too paranoid?
Data breaches have become so ubiquitous that they barely register anymore in the public psyche. Every year, the number of attacks on individual users and companies that hold the data of millions of people increases, making it just another issue that we have to face in this stressful day and age.
In 2018, during just the period of April to June, the number of cyberattacks was approximated at 765 million, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in scamming. The Equifax breach in 2017 led to the data leak of 143 million Americans, hampering their personal records and putting their identities in lifelong jeopardy.
Hackers gain access to personal information by adding a phony link to an email that allows them to phish your ID and password information. These links could also install malware on your computers and RAT (Remote Access Tool) to create a virtual back door, giving complete access and control of the computer to the hacker.
These RATs can give hackers access to your webcam, which they do so slyly by disabling the LED indicator so you have no idea that anything is wrong or that the camera is on. This individual webcam access is sold on the dark web; criminal elements literally sell a window into your personal life to a complete stranger!
Many people are also blackmailed and extorted as a result of their compromising private images taken from the webcams. In 2013, Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf revealed that she had been blackmailed by an unknown person in exchange for her personal pictures, which he took from her webcam. The perpetrator was nabbed by the FBI the following month and it was found that the guilty person, 35-year-old Christopher Chaney, had targeted 350 other women in similar cases. He was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
These attacks can lead to financial, emotional and social trauma, so erring on the side of caution in this era of ever-rising cyber-attacks is being smart, not paranoid.
How can you safeguard yourself from webcam spies?
First things first, never open links from a shady email that you receive, no matter what the email claims, no matter how much money you just won, no matter how fancy the new iPhone is that they will send you once you register through the link. These are simply ways to access the passwords of your financial holdings, and a way to install malware and RATs in your computer to give access to your webcam and private life to strangers.
Invest in good anti-virus software that will keep your computer clean, even when some sort of malware sneaks on; this software will help you be safe in both your offline and online usage. Conduct a system-wide virus scan every month, as this will ensure that you remain clean and protected. Don’t install any questionable software or apps on any of your devices, as more often than not they bundle in malware that can silently take over your system. Having parental locks in place is also a sensible thing to do to safeguard your children.
Choose strong passwords that combine many symbols, numbers and letters; change them every once in a while to ensure the complete safety of your financial and private information.
Last but not least, cover your webcam with an opaque sticker or tape. This will ensure that no matter what happens, your private life will not be vulnerable to voyeuristic perverts. You can even go a step further and buy a good webcam cover from the myriad that are available online. Some good ones that you can check out include C- slide, Elimoons, and Yarkor.
In this age of constant digitization, it is essential to safeguard yourself from cyberattacks and data breaches. Millions of people fall victim to hackers every year and the number will only keep rising.
Your protection is in your hands, so educating and investing in the right tools is paramount for erecting a safe wall between you and the people who want to peek in for their own benefit. Stay wise and cover your cam now!