Unsettlingly, it can happen to anyone with a webcam.
Perverts may be spying on you, hacking into your computer, and watching you do every day mundane personal tasks like changing your clothes, surfing the web in your pajamas or underwear – or in Rachel Hyndman’s case, peeping as you relax in a bath while watching a DVD on the laptop.
The discomforting realization came when the 20-year-old student from Glasgow noticed the light of her webcam turned on. She’d been hacked and unaware of how long the digital voyeur had been watching her prior to the bath incident, according to BBC News.
Typically the perpetrators of this crime are male and this type of hack is becoming more common.
The intrusion can come in a seemingly benign email as part of an attachment that, once opened, can automatically install a virus which then acts as a remote administration tool – allowing the sender access to your computer at any time.
Essentially, hackers are able to gain entry to victims’ computers using a piece of malicious software (malware) commonly referred to as a remote-access Trojan (RAT). The term “ratting” has been used to describe this practice.
People often leave their computers on and facing open space inside their homes – in areas like bedrooms where one conducts the most intimate of actions and personal behavior.
Someone with enough technical knowledge or the right software can easily infect your device. From there they can remotely activate mics and webcams allowing them listen in and view everything you do within the scope of your computer. They can also peruse saved files and operate the keyboard.
Parents should be especially cautious as pedophiles could be secretly spying on their kids and distributing the footage.
One of the other motives behind this particularly unpleasant act of voyeuristic hacking is to publically humiliate its victims. The Daily Mail cites several examples of women being targeted and tormented – as culprits post an array of their victims on video-sharing platforms. They disparagingly refer to these women as slaves, because they have managed to enslave their computers.
In one video mentioned in the report, an attractive blonde woman appears to be sitting at her computer, oblivious to the fact that she is being observed. Then a message materializes onto the screen, written in white on a black background, informing her that she is now the property of a hard-core pornographic website. In the clip, the hacker blatantly links the woman’s Facebook profile to the intrusive videos, placing her in danger and enhancing the impact of the embarrassment.
In another noted incident, a hardware hijacker activates the computer as a mother lounges with her son on a sofa, and abruptly yells out an obscene litany of foul language and sexual remarks.
Horrifically, one ponders how long the victims have been monitored by these types of predators? A few minutes? Days? Weeks?
In regards to built-in laptop webcams, most have tiny little indicator lights which will turn on in the event it is engaged. But who is going to actively notice it when computers have plenty of other blinking lights? Therefore, the Huffington Post suggests taking precautions by installing anti-virus software; cover up a webcam when not in use; turning off or close laptops when not in use; and avoid opening questionable email.
[Feature Image via Shutterstock]