For a couple of years now, I’ve had a piece of tape over my computer’s built-in webcam. Apparently, I’m not the only one.
“I saw something in the news, so I copied it.”
That’s how FBI Director James Comey described a little security measure he mentioned during a talk about privacy issues at Kenyon College in Ohio.
That “something” is taking a small piece of tape and covering the webcam on your desktop and laptop computers.
I find that gaffer’s tape works the best and is the least noticeable.
Silly me. All this time, I thought I was the only one paranoid enough to do such a thing.
Comey explained his reasoning this way: “Because I saw somebody smarter than I am had a piece of tape over their camera.”
Here, I imagine, is where someone who’d view this as a total “conspiracy theorist” move might ask if he would have jumped off a cliff if he saw someone do that.
At issue here, however, according to OSXDaily, is “camfecting.” It is the process of attempting to hack into a person’s webcam and activate it without the webcam owner’s permission.
While we’d like to believe it could never happen, but this has actually happened. And it has been happening for years. A video from 2009 from the BBC describes how illegal Trojan software can allow a hacker to access your computer’s webcam. And worse: the same software can record every keystroke.
If, seven years later, the head of the FBI is putting a piece of tape over his computer’s webcam, that might just indicate that this is a serious enough issue that it’s at least worth considering.
Just to be safe.
Speaking of being safe, there are some ways to avoid Trojan software.
- Keep your virus software up to date. (Even Macs have been affected by viruses; hackers no longer focus “only” on PCs these days.)
- Make sure your software is up to date. Whenever you can, if you have the option for automatic updates, it might be worth considering just to make sure a critical security update doesn’t slip past your attention, potentially leaving you vulnerable to a security risk.
- Never open an email, an attachment or a piece of downloaded software if you aren’t certain of the source. It’s possible a simple double-click of the wrong file can install a Trojan horse virus on your machine, leaving you and your data vulnerable to prying eyes.