Should you be covering your webcam?

Should you be covering your webcam?

Since webcams became the go-to way to present yourself online when setting up a virtual meeting or streaming, there have been many questions surrounding their safety. After all, when you’re using a device with an online connection, it’s natural to wonder if you’re being spied on by a malicious party.

While many laptops now come with privacy shutters, and webcam manufacturers make it difficult for attackers to hack into them, that doesn’t mean even the best webcams can’t be used as a virtual peephole. So, is this really the case, and should you be covering your webcam?

How are webcams hacked?

Unfortunately, it isn’t incredibly difficult to hack a webcam, especially if one’s device security is lacking. Though the process isn’t super simple for the average Joe, it can be a walk in the park for experienced cybercriminals with a certain level of technical knowledge. 

Usually, hacking a webcam (or “camfecting”) involves the use of a Remote Access Trojan, or RAT. As the name suggests, a RAT allows you to access and control a device without being physically in front of it. 

(Image credit: Pixabay)

RATs are often installed without the victim’s knowledge via a Trojan: a vehicle through which an attacker installs malware on a device. Trojans usually come in the form of malicious applications that are designed to look benign.