As COVID-19 has forced individuals and businesses to coordinate through video conferencing on their day-to-day work. Most schools or businesses have made it compulsory for students or participants to turn on their videos during their online sessions. You can not really trust a participant to be there if you can not see them. Even more so if the number of participants is high. But along with this digital rise, there has also been a rise in camfecting.
Camfecting, or better known as webcam hacking, is a cybercrime where a hacker accesses a victim’s camera without the victim’s knowledge either through physical tampering or a malware program. Whether it is a baby monitor, an in-built webcam on your laptop, an external webcam or even your smartphone camera, all are equally vulnerable to hacking.
There are growing concerns on whether or not your webcam is spying on you. If yes, then are hackers or the state surveillance involved in such activities. While hacker attack is well-known, the latter is not just a tinfoil hat conspiracy. Webcam hacking does not limit the hacker to just spy on you through your camera.
Hackers can record videos or audio, capture screen, scan your files and even steal your passwords through keyloggers. Keyloggers are the spying tools that hackers use to know what letters you typed. People might hack your webcam for business advantages, personal revenge or blackmailing. Needless to say, if your data is compromised or stolen, it can ruin your life completely.
There are a variety of ways one might fall victim to camfecting. As with most other bad internet practices, clicking on suspicious links, opening unsafe emails or downloading questionable files from untrusted sources. It is a common way to infect your device with malware and give away access to your device or webcam. The trojan virus is another way you might give away your webcam access. While Trojans vary in functionality and purpose, they work by disguising themselves as legitimate software to bypass suspicion. They can even control your hardware.
Another way that people can give away their webcam access is through tech support scams. These are groups dedicated to scamming old, gullible or non-tech savvy people through social engineering tactics. Usually, they call people or advertise their number on malicious websites falsely claiming they have a virus infection in the victim’s PC. After finding a gullible person, they pretend to be a computer technician from a well-known company and guide them to install third-party software.
A scammer can get full remote access to your computer through such software. Once they have full access to your computer, scammers can do whatever they want with the computer. Even after they scam their victims, they can still have access to the victim’s computer. In worst cases, these victims will never find out scammers are still spying on them.
The flashing light near your webcam indicates that your webcam is currently in use. If your webcam light is on but not in use, then hackers might have access to your webcam. More experienced hackers or malware can turn off the light function to make themselves harder to detect. However, a flashing light doesn’t always mean a breach in your webcam.
This could be the result of faulty or entirely malicious browser extensions or applications. To find out which extension or program might be the culprit, activate them one at a time and check if the webcam light turns on. You can also try running the webcam and if it tells you that the webcam is currently in use by another program, see which programs are currently running on your task manager. Repeat the process as before to find out the culprit.
To ensure maximum security, scan your PC by an anti-malware program regularly or have a tech professional inspect it. Now that you know what camfecting is, how it works, and how it can be detected, you need to know the preventive measures. Here is a list of few easy things you can do to protect yourself against camfecting:
This is a golden rule that applies to every sort of cybersecurity measure. Do not visit suspicious links or websites, don’t open emails from strangers and do not download files from untrusted sources.
Keep your system up-to-date
Due to the frequency of OS updates, especially on PC operating systems, people tend to ignore them. However, new updates come with new patches that fix possible vulnerabilities & make your system more secure. So, update your PC regularly. After all, updating your system is not difficult.
Use firewall software
A firewall is a security system that monitors incoming and outgoing traffic from and to your network. Firewalls have pre-determined filters that can detect and block suspicious incoming packets of data. In this way, it can prevent hackers from gaining access to your device.
An anti-malware can cover several types of malware like Trojans, spyware, adware and other harmful programs. Anti-malware detects & removes malware before they try to gain access to your system. Just make sure that your anti-malware is reliable and protects against cyber threats than most good and free anti-malware programs.
Cover or disconnect your webcam
Another simple solution can be to cover your webcam. You can easily buy a cheap slidable webcam cover. If you are using an external webcam, you can unplug it when not in use.