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Can Your Webcam Be Used To Spy On You?

If you’ve ever required your computer to be fixed remotely, you may have been alarmed to discover an engineer can ‘hijack’ your screen, manipulate your cursor and use your computer in the same way you can. While this technique can be highly beneficial for those of you with a crashed computer, it does beg the question – if someone with good intentions can use my computer in this way, what’s to stop a criminal using this same process to infiltrate a business or personal computer and even go as far as to switch on a webcam?
 
Not long ago, data watchdogs raised the alarm about a number of easily-accessible websites that livestream video monitors and cameras, many of which belong to the homes, businesses (and bedrooms) of unsuspecting members of the public. One such website features live video content from over 250 countries, with 500 feeds coming from the UK alone. Business owners, families and groups such as the elderly were particularly vulnerable, and since its publication, widespread panic has understandably emerged. If a hacker can infiltrate your computer webcam (or any other camera facility in your home or business), what’s to stop them from becoming familiar with your business’s passwords, regimes, routines, conversations, staff interactions and everything else that happens in the supposed privacy of your office?
 
It’s no secret that hacking in general is a major concern for businesses of all sizes. An estimated 1.8% vanishes from share prices of all listed companies following cyber attacks and data breaches. But hacking can feel more intrusive, personal and threatening when a camera is involved – so how can businesses protect themselves from this sort of attack without having to step back into the era when webcams were rarely, or never used?
 

Be Email Smart

Webcam spy software can infect your computer via freeware, links to fake websites and spam emails containing unsafe attachments. What’s more, malicious executable files can hide within seemingly safe software, so that when it’s downloaded, it quietly installs malware into the background of your computer, almost always without your knowledge. Once installed, threats like these can view your movements in real time, read your emails, capture your screen and keystrokes, and take over your camera. What’s even more concerning is that you’ll have no idea your webcam is in use – the light will not flash and you will not be presented with a webcam screen on your desktop. Basically, once they’re in, you may never even know until it’s too late. So, the first step to remaining safe at your desk is to be vigilant about your email use, including scrutinising any unknown or new email senders and having a robust email security system that flags and/or deletes unusual or potentially vicious communications.
 

Be Password Savvy

It’s an oldie but a goodie. The more complex your password is, the more robust it is and the better your chances are of keeping hackers at bay. One of the problems raised by Watchdog was that many home-based (and some business-based) victims had weak passwords that were easily passable using targeted attacks. Your password should contain numbers and letters, as well as symbols and capital letters, and should be changed on a monthly basis.
 

Use Cameras Over A Secure Internet Connection

Insecure networks leave your business or home computer wide open to attacks. That is why it is vital to have a password protected network especially when using your webcam for professional or personal use. You may also want to consider the physical environment you’re in – What is exposed by your camera? Does it point to a door with a code? Would hackers be able to see the layout of your office or where the company safe is? It’s important to take human steps to protect yourself and your business in case of an attack that reveals a lot more than what’s on your hard drive.
 

Have a Robust Internet Security System

At Storm Internet, we know that a business with a robust, customised and properly managed cyber security system has a tremendously reduced risk of all attacks, including those that infiltrate web cams and other security cameras. We also know that each business is different, with unique needs and IT systems. That’s why we offer a range of packages that can be tailored to your business and protect against attacks and keep your business, employees and yourself safe. Contact us here to discuss your data security needs.