Putting tape over your laptop camera may seem like overkill to you, but there are plenty of reasons you should employ this easy and cheap method to protect your privacy. The more you consider its benefits, the more it makes sense to cover up your camera.
So why might you cover your webcam? How can cameras be compromised? And if you do decide to cover it up, how should you do it?
Can Your Webcam Be Hacked?
It’s now pretty commonplace to be seated in front of your computer for a considerable time. Therefore, it is crucial for you always to remember that webcam hacking is comparatively simple.
It involves the unintentional download of malware, especially a Trojan horse, that installs software which covertly takes control of your device. You can download a Trojan horse through a harmless-looking link sent to your email or while surfing the internet.
This malware doesn’t only have access to your camera but can also slip into your private files and browsing history. The information, including your pictures and videos obtained from your computer, could be used for malicious purposes, like blackmail, opening social media accounts to run scams, posting on adult sites, or even selling on the dark web to the highest bidder.
How Do You Know if Your Webcam Has Been Hacked?
Fortunately, there are signs to look out for to ascertain whether your webcam has been compromised.
Unexplained Movements and Sounds
Some webcams can rotate and move in different directions on the commands of the computer user. Hackers can take control of the camera and try to record better footage. So when you see your webcam suddenly moving or twitching independently, this could be a sign that your computer has been infected with malware.
Also, webcams are connected to your microphones and speakers. Sudden sounds from them could signal that your camera is under the control of a third party.
Strange Apps and Files
Video recordings and images that have been taken illegally by the hacker could be stored on your computer. Watch out for strange files popping up in your storage.
These files would most likely be where you won’t look, so you need to do an extensive search if you suspect your webcam is compromised. You could look for recently-modified files or use other methods to find snoopers on your PC.
The indicator light on a webcam shows it’s active. Malware tampers with the light to deceive unsuspecting computer users. If the LED switches on and off when you’re not using it, or it is absent when the camera is active, then malware could be present on your computer.
Should You Cover Your Webcam With Tape?
When we use our computers, we are totally in the glare of the camera lens, open to any malware present.
Though a Trojan horse could do other damage apart from granting camera access, putting tape over your camera is a good step to take. Even if other precautions are in place, a tape covering your webcam hinders any hacker’s plans of taking shots of your face.
More so, access to personal webcams is sold on the dark web, so you really don’t know who could be in charge of your camera. And if that weren’t reason enough, images and videos taken in secret could be used for blackmail by cybercriminals.
What Kind of Tape Should You Use?
The kind of tape you use should be opaque enough to block light and be easily removable—after all, you won’t want it on there all the time. Also, the tape chosen shouldn’t have an adhesive that will leave a sticky residue on the camera after removal. So what choices do you have?
Some stickers are actually custom-built for webcams. These can be reapplied lots of times before they lose their stickiness. Additionally, they look much nicer than your run-of-the-mill tapes and are specially designed not to leave any adhesive residue.
This tape is easily removable, and there is little adhesive sticking to the camera after removing it. This makes it perfect as a webcam tape. However, painters tape can be quite hard to find, especially if you’re in a remote location.
When it comes to opacity, few things beat duct tape. It allows little or no light to pass through, but the adhesive doesn’t come off easily.
Washi Tape can be translated into “Japanese Paper”. Though it is more expensive than your regular tape, it is made of natural fiber, is opaque, and comes in different designs.
Some people leave sticky notes covering the camera, so it can be draped over or uncovered easily. Stick the top of the note over the webcam, and the rest of the paper will fall over, covering the lens.
Sticky notes come in different colors but are thick enough to serve as a suitable cover. Though some sticky notes leave residue, they have become popular due to their attractive colors and how easy they are to obtain.
Are There Other Ways to Stop People from Spying on You?
Malware is the main tool used by hackers to gain access to your webcam. Covering up your camera with tape is the first step and, at the same time, the last ditch effort against privacy-invading malware.
The only way to stop the hackers from having any control is to improve your computer’s defenses and shore up vulnerabilities. Install a paid-for antivirus suite and security updates regularly, and ensure you don’t click on web links without knowing their origin. Also, VPNs are effective as they keep your internet connection private and prevent most security breaches.
Tape: A Small Solution to a Big Problem
The chances of a hacker gaining control of your webcam might be low, but it’s definitely not impossible. Imagine a stranger watching you through your webcam right now: creepy, eh?
This can be avoided by pasting tape over your webcam, something that you can easily remove when you want to attend your online conferences or make a video call to a loved one..