Is your webcam spying on you? Not likely, but the “home hackers” on the other end could be snooping on your activities using your computer’s camera, baby monitor, and security cam, among other things.
In light of the recent nude photo hacking involving celebrities, attention has been focused on ways to protect your privacy. And while commoners may not be victims of the so-called 4Chan leaked photos scandal, devices you use everyday may be compromised in covert ways. And here’s the most alarming part: if you fall victim to webcam hackers, what you’re doing can be streamed live and online for the world to see.
DailyMail reported the results of an investigation over claims everyday people are being snooped on without their consent and knowledge. Moreover, the illegal activities are not limited to the home or your boudoir; hacking of webcams and other surveillance devices involved organizations and businesses as well.
The challenge was to determine if electronic devices that are bought to monitor homes and people for safety are easy to compromise by hackers. Obviously, their intent is to steal financial and sensitive information, extort individuals with release of private photos, case a home for valuables, or simply to seek some form of gratification.
Reporters visited a website that is available to anyone, and for two hours they were able to watch people going about their daily routine in homes and places of business.
Sources reported seeing babies in cots, children asleep, school children playing on computers in their homes, inside a church’s changing room, a senior woman in deep thought sitting in a chair, two men having a meal, and more.
The creepiest part of this experiment was none of the players involved were aware scores of people around the world were observing what they were doing. If there is any comfort, the operator of the website blurs out location information of the cameras, but some places could be easily identified by locals.
As technology changes, new gadgets come equipped with features that excite buyers to the point of a purchase. Although that fancy high-definition webcam you have on your laptop provides a dazzling display, it can double as a surveillance camera in the hands of a home hacker.
Other devices designed to keep you safe have factory-default passwords that, if not changed, can be easily guessed by a savvy hacker, who will then use the device to spy on you. Basically, the snooper sends your computer a virus that unlocks your personal computer or Mac.
During the two-hours of investigation, reporters were able to see a cashier entering personal customer information into their business system. The onsite manager was notified, and they were livid over the revelation. So using online surveillance cameras or computer cams is not simply about sneaking peeks at your private moments; hackers can target you financially and steal your identity.
A British politician, Julian Huppert, weighed in on recent surge of online webcam hacking.
“It’s not just the creepy feeling that you are being seen, which is the main concern, it’s also the content of what is being seen. We’re talking about financial information, private information – exactly the sort of stuff the camera is designed to protect, but is doing the opposite.”
Here are some tips on how to protect yourself from webcam hackers.
- Ensure the camera you buy allows you to change the default password.
- If manual doesn’t explain how to do this, call manufacturer and get clear guidance.
- Take time to set up a strong password and change it regularly.
Other things you can do to guard against breaches in your online privacy by webcam hackers is to be vigilant, don’t fall for phishing email schemes, don’t click on unfamiliar email attachments, change your passwords often, use hard-to-guess passwords, and don’t ever think it can’t happen to you.