Good hackers can slide into a computer’s system, behind its camera lens and through its data without ever being detected. Sometimes the user will find a trail of corrupted files, spammy pop up ads or a glitchy computer, but often, individuals are left unaware of the invasion of privacy and personhood. While prevention is the key to keeping your online data safe, awareness is the most important sense we can have surrounding our online devices. Should a hacker get through to your computer, laptop or phone, the sooner you are aware of the situation, the easier and faster it is to remedy any problems he or she may have caused.
How to know if your webcam has been hacked
Hackers use malware, or a RAT (remote administration tool), to take control of a computer and its webcam. These invasive tools are installed onto your computer when you open an infected email, click through to a compromised link or install an infected program. Once a computer has contracted the malware, hackers become able to access the webcam, alongside other personal data stored on your computer. They can find passwords, browsing activity, messages and even photos.
Most computers have an ‘ON’ light next to the webcam. If your webcam has been hacked, you’ll see see the light has been activated, which means the light is either lit, or blinking. An activated webcam, without the intentional use by the owner/user, is a strong sign that your camera has been hacked. An active camera light could also just be the result of an untended application or website add on. So if you notice your camera is on, run a few tests:
Testing to see if your webcam has been hacked
Reboot your computer and wait a few minutes. If the camera turns back on, then you have most likely been hacked. If not, it could have been an app that was left open (as stated above). Even if the camera stays off for a few minutes after rebooting, remain aware of it the remainder of your day. If it turns back on without your command, someone else is most likely accessing your camera.
See if any applications are using the webcam
Try to open up your webcam. If you get an error message stating that the camera is already in use, then there are two reasons: 1) is because an actual program is still using the camera or 2) because your camera has been hacked. If you have a PC, use the Process Explorer tool to find what application is using your camera. If you have a Mac, you can discover which apps are using your camera by accessing your terminal. Find out how here.
Check for corrupted files. Here are the steps to check for corrupted files if you are using a PC. If you use Apple products, here are the steps to check for corrupted files on a Mac and begin to fix them.
What to do if your webcam was hacked
Add anti-malware software, reset your passwords & get a webcam cover
If you don’t already have a security system installed on your computers, there is no better time than now. Look for a service that includes antivirus, anti-spyware, a firewall and other tools that keep your data secure. And then keep the program up to date. When the popup to update shows up on a screen, agree to the update more than you say ‘Try Later.’
Change and increase the strength of your wireless network password. This prevents outside users from accessing your network without your consent, and infiltrating data from there.
And select and apply a KamShield webcam cover.