The release of the movie Snowden today might have left you wondering if your own laptop or cellphone camera could be hacked. Well, paranoid as it sounds, it could happen. Edward Snowden brought to the world’s attention how the National Security Agency hacks into microphones and webcams of computers it has targeted and then spies on their users. You might not think you lead a life worthy of being spied on by the NSA, but there are other ways to have your personal computer security threatened. Malware can be installed by hackers who then take control of your laptop’s webcam, even when it’s turned off, to spy on you in the privacy of your home. Thankfully, it’s as easy as attaching CAMBAID over your webcam to guarantee you won’t be spied on. Slide the window open when you’d like to use the camera, and closed when you’d like some extra security.
The head of the FBI, James Comey, said this year that he puts tape over his laptop’s webcam. A photo of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that made the media rounds this summer shows he covers his webcam as well. Even Snowden actress Shailene Woodley has remarked how she puts a Band-aid over her webcam. They all have the right idea, but tape and bandages leave behind an adhesive residue that could impact the camera’s optimal functioning. CAMBAID leaves zero residue behind and is slim enough that it doesn’t need to be removed when the laptop is closed.
The July 2015 malware report released by the Digital Citizens Alliance explains in detail over 40 pages how hackers spy on their victims in a process called ratting (RAT stands for remote access trojan, a type of malware easy to install). The report states that young women and girls are most at risk of being hacked. In fact, many do not even know they are being watched remotely for months as these hackers, or ratters, collect pictures and video captured through the webcam, usually when a girl is changing in her bedroom. The ratters eventually demand money in lieu of making the images public. This is called sextortion and it is a popular choice among ratters looking to make money from their victims. Children are also at risk to have malware installed on devices they use as they are more likely to click on links they may not recognize. Ratters sell access to these slaved webcams on forums, with those of young women selling for more than young men.
Ultimately, it is up to each person to ensure they’re protecting their own security and that of their children. Don’t click on links you don’t know, and make sure hackers don’t have access to your webcam by covering it with CAMBAID.