Is your computer watching you?
Most new computers and laptops now have webcams. But, how do you know if it’s activated?
One couple found out they were being watched through the webcam of a laptop they rented. In depth: how your electronics can turn against you.
Matt Bauerband, computer whiz with a local company called Computer Answers, shows how your webcam can watch you.“As soon as I move my finger, it should kick on, and there we go.”Bauerband downloaded a program that activates the computer’s webcam as soon as it detects any motion or noise.
First, we walked in front of the laptop to test it and then we set the laptop up in a separate room. As soon as we walked in, the camera started recording. Bauerband says a program like this can be installed from anywhere.“Someone could easily hack into any computer, install it, and then monitor the webcam remotely.”
And the program will send the hacker updates of what the webcam has captured.“This will also email you video, pictures, sounds, whatever this captures directly to your email address.” The software is supposed to act like a security camera. For example, a Florida woman set up a webcam in her home and caught two burglars in the act. But, a Wyoming couple had a very different, and disturbing experience.
Crystal and Brian Bird leased a laptop from Aaron’s a rent to own store. They were blown away when an employee from the store showed up at their door. “I couldn’t believe it, the guy came in like he owned the place, showed me a picture of myself, it was pretty invasive.” The birds say the picture was of Brian on the couch, playing computer poker, secretly taken by the laptops webcamera.
“I’ve used it in my bra and underwear, there’s been a few times checking my grades for school getting ready to get in the shower, I’m in my bra and underwear not thinking anyone is watching me, of course.” Computer Answers owner Paul Zaichenko explains this is just a taste of what he feels is a growing problem; our electronics turning against us. “Our privacy becomes a question. At what point and where do we have it where don’t we?”
Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from your webcam:
First – enable your firewall.
Second – make sure you have good anti-virus software, and update it regularly.
Third – install a spyware detection program as well.
Anti-virus software alone may not be enough to fight spyware.