With the recent Snowden leaks in 2013, millions of people in the US and across the globe have become paranoid regarding their security on the Internet. Everyone is scared that the NSA is listening in on every conversation you have with your close ones, on text, voice or video mediums.
The fad has gone to such an extent that it recently saw Mark Zuckerberg join the paranoia bandwagon. When Mark posted a photo on his social media about Instagram crossing 500 million users, users couldn’t help but notice the strange things going on in his background.
Webcam Hacking: It’s Not Just Happening In Movies Anymore!
Zuck’s personal machine, a MacBook Pro, had its webcam and microphone port hidden with strong opaque tape. Apart from the NSA leaks, there are a lot of other sources that can hack your webcam for their personal uses. Hackers generally spread malware onto people’s laptops that record you while the webcam on your PC is not in use.
This is a grave violation of your privacy and can be dangerous for reading into many kinds of passwords for your bank or online accounts. Recently, a Pennsylvania lawsuit accused a district of using webcams on school-issued laptops to spy on students and their families. In China, a professional network of hackers known as GhostNet has been able to crack around 1,295 webcams in 103 countries.
Here are the some of the pro tips that can help you prevent yourself and your computer from webcam hacking.
1. Stay Away From Suspicious Links
This is the default warning to protect your PC from any kind of malware, don’t click on any link or attachment whose source you are unknown of. Among these, email attachments are the most common target as people tend to click on them, with the presumptive of an offer or reward. Also, try and avoid all websites that offer photos and videos for free, because they tend to be soft targets for any unknowing users looking for content on the Internet.
2. Use A Firewall
A security firewall is built into most home WiFi networks and is mostly helpful, depending on the way you use it. It protects you from any unwanted intrusion and limits the amount of sites that can access your personal data and send in malware.
Sometimes, though, if the certain software works in a funny way, you might need to open up some doors for it on your firewall. In Windows, you can turn on the Firewall in the Control Panel while on a Mac; you need to switch it on from the System Preferences.
3. Use Effective Antivirus
While most regard an antivirus software as useless and ineffective against most malware, installing a reputed alternative is essential for knowing when a virus hits your machine. Before buying the antivirus, ensure that it offers complete malware and spyware protection and has decent reviews from previous users. Once installed, you should make sure that the software is kept up to date, and regular checks of the system are followed for a completely safe atmosphere.
4. Avoid Using Webcams In Bedrooms
Even after following these preventive measures, there is a good chance that intruders may be able to hack into your machine and access your webcam without any trace.
To avoid any damage due to this intrusion, make sure that webcams are not kept in bedrooms or places where you can be captured in situations that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see. Also, inform your family members, who use the computer, to stay alert and avoid creating compromising situations in front of the webcam.
5. Secure Your WiFi Network
If there is just a single feature you use on your Wi-Fi router, it has to be of securing and sealing it completely. Encryption, a technique of hiding the data between networks, is a great way to protect your connection from unwanted hackers.
An SSID is the unique nickname given to your specific WiFi network. Make sure that this SSID is kept as unique as possible. Also, your password should be WPA2-PSK protected and must be difficult enough to crack by the professionals. You can then store it away in your brain, nowhere else. Remember everything can be tracked.
6. Don’t Talk To Strangers Online
Ah, the classic advice we give to our children, it comes back. The most simple way of staying away from unwanted attention is by avoiding chatting or talking to anyone on the Internet if you haven’t met them in real life. It is quite easy to fake identities on the Internet and hackers can try and extract information from you or your family members through social engineering. Whenever talking to strangers, always keep a lookout for the kind of details that you are giving out, keeping them as non-personal as possible.
7. Look Out For The Blinking Light
Most external, as well as internal webcams, have colored lights that often indicate when the webcam is switched on. If your laptop’s LED indicator light goes on weirdly, it is time to format your operating system and get help from an expert. If you have an external webcam connected to your computer, simply plug it and keep it out of sight when not in use.
8. Tape It Up
When you have exhausted all your options and are still paranoid about the entire webcam hacking thing, all we suggest is that you finally tape up your webcam when not in use. This is the final option and should only be done when you are not satisfied with any of the other solutions from our list.
Taking on from Mark Zuckerberg and Edward Snowden, taping up your webcam with strong tape is the perfect and permanent solution to prevent yourself from any kind of webcam hacking. Apart from that it also prevents any kind of video chat ever, because you just screwed up the entire camera lens of your computer. You probably might want to rethink this one.
While paranoia is a tough job to eliminate, keeping yourself satisfied that no one can hack is, unfortunately, a myth. Most of the people have learned to live with it in the name of national security. All you can do is take care of yourself and your loved ones by following some of the tips we gave. If you have any questions or feedback, do send it across. Also, check out the website for more Android tips and tricks.