Now that you have the 1984 Motown hit single by Rockwell and M.J. blaring in your head, I’ll explain why I’ve cursed you thus.
Webcams. Yep, webcams are the reason you’re humming hip-hop in your head.
Webcams are wonderful devices. They allow us to video chat with relatives living far off — if you haven’t tried this, you don’t know what you’re missing. There’s facial recognition software that allows you to log on to your computer via your webcam. They help us monitor the interior and exterior of our homes and businesses for security purposes.
In this blog, I’m not going to tell you how to use your webcam. Rather, I’m going to tell how to keep others from using your webcam without your knowledge.
This year thousands of unsecured personal and business webcams were hijacked and livestreamed to whomever wished to view them. The site streaming these was closed down a few days later when the world’s major media outlets broke the story six months after the site went live.
It’s a harsh reminder to us with all the newfound wonders of the internet, and the freedoms it gives us, also comes responsibility.
Many of cams seized were surveillance cameras. These webcams weren’t only in homes, but offices around the world.
I know what you’re thinking, “Hackers can’t do that to personal laptop webcams, can they?” Um, yeah, unfortunately they can.
Norton, the anti-virus software people, has a good security article on webcam hijackings. In it they mention a lawsuit in Pennsylvania against a school for using webcams on school-issued laptops to spy on students and their families. You can read more from Norton at Are Hackers Using Your Webcam to Watch You?
- The obvious one: perverts abound on the internet.
- The site livestreaming hijacked cams listed each webcam’s country and the owner’s last name.
- If the person viewing recognizes you and your last name, they know exactly when you’re not home. This is especially bad if it’s a business cam.
- From the picture streaming, the viewer knows exactly where the camera is should they intend to break-in and disable it.
- Believe it or not, there are websites teaching people how to secretly hack into and turn on webcams.
Secure Your Life
- The easiest way to put the kabosh on ill-intended webcam infiltration is incredibly low-tech. Cut a square from the sticky part of a Post-It note and plunk it over the camera hole. Too easy, huh? I have a piece over mine.
- Have security software installed and enabled on your mobile devices.
- For any cam device you use (baby monitors, security cameras, etc.), always change the default password. And for goodness sakes, don’t use “12345” or “password” or “11111” … or any other easily guessed pass. See my blog Creating the Safest Passwords for help.
- Secure your internet router. How? 1) Change the administration password from the default. 2) Use WPA2 encryption, and 3) switch off SSID which broadcasts the name of your router, or change the name to something generic.
Your router users guide can help you. Tip: If you’ve misplaced your router user’s guide, the internet is a spectacular place to find guides. Simply search your router brand and model number and “user’s guide”.
Feel safer? You should. You’ve just taken steps toward securing your life.
Best of luck with your newfound security confidence. Enjoy the independence, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀
DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.
I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.