If there is one thing Black Mirror and Mr. Robot have gotten right, it is the horrors of technology that largely go unnoticed. Even though these issues have been around for some time, they are not discussed as much as they should. Take for example how a Mr. Robot episode was about Angela’s webcam getting hacked. She was photographed and later blackmailed, which left many viewers uncomfortable. Also, viewers were left wondering: are they really safe in front of their webcam?
In the show, Angela was compromised because of a CD Ollie purchased from an unreliable street vendor, who was, in reality, a hacker. As soon as the CD was inserted into Angela’s laptop, the malicious program therein did what it was supposed to do, giving the hacker control of the webcam.
As farfetched as this instance of “camfecting” may seem, it is actually quite easy to pull off. Hackers use this amongst many other ways to take control of webcams. In most cases, their goal is to transmit a Remote Access Trojan or malware into their target’s laptop. This way, they can not only take control of their victim’s webcam, but they can gain access to their browsing data, messages and personal files as well.
If you want to find out if hackers are using the webcam of your laptop, you can find out. To learn how to do so, read on.
Check the Webcam Indicator Light
First and foremost, you will need to check if the indicator light for your laptop’s webcam is on or not. Even if you are not using the webcam, if the indicator light is on, it is a sign that something is not right. However, it is also possible that another application might be using the webcam, which should explain why the indicator light is on in the first place, but that is not a good thing either.
If the indicator light is blinking, it is a common sign that the webcam is being controlled by malware. But there is a chance that certain browser extensions are using the webcam, thus causing it to flash.
Whenever you switch on your laptop and the indicator starts flashing without launching applications or a browser, then you could be in real trouble.
Verify if the Webcam Process is Running
To check if the webcam process is running or not, you will need to access the Task Manager. There, under the Processes tab, you will find a list of all running processes. Look for webcam utility. If it is there, don’t panic right away, as it could be a default setting triggering the webcam to launch on boot. Disable the setting, and try again. If the webcam utility has started automatically again, then your system has been compromised for sure.
Check for Application using the Webcam
Another way to find out if your webcam is being used or not is by running the webcam application. If you get an error message stating the application is already in use, then it is either being used by a certain program or the webcam has been hacked. To find out which application could be the culprit, head over to the Process Explorer tool.
If you own a MacBook, then, in that case, you can identify what application is using the webcam by checking out the Terminal and entering specific commands. Check out this tutorial to find out more about it.
Once you are sure there is malware controlling your webcam, scan for malware immediately. If your machine is infected, you will need to take the appropriate steps needed to get rid of malware and the hacker responsible.
How to Prevent Webcam Spying
If you want to prevent webcam spying, there are a couple of things you will need to do, which are:
Get a Premium Antivirus Program
Don’t just get any antivirus program, get one with advanced protection against spyware, viruses, and malware. It would be wise to pay for a premium antivirus program instead of opting for a free one, as they are not as effective as the premium ones. If they are not charging you for their services, they are most likely selling your information and whatnot to make money.
If it is not enabled already, enable the firewall on your system to monitor network traffic and block suspicious connections instantaneously.
To enable firewall on your device, simply follow these instructions:
- On macOS, go to System Preferences > System & Privacy > Firewall.
- On Windows, access Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Firewall > Turn Windows Firewall On or Off.
Don’t Fall for Phishing Traps
Hackers are quite clever, they will pose as support agents contacting you regarding an issue with something regarding your system. If not for this, you could get emails claiming you have won millions of dollars. No matter the case, be smart, don’t fall for phishing traps. If something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t.
Use a VPN
If you really want to go off the grid to become invisible to hackers and cybercriminals, there is no better way to make that possible than by using a VPN. With a reliable VPN, like Ivacy VPN, you will not only become anonymous, secure and safe online, but you will also be able to access any and all content online.
No matter what you do online, be vigilant about what sites you visit and the content you download. Hackers will do whatever it takes to get you to download malicious programs, so you will need to be smarter. Most importantly, if you really want to become invisible online for hackers, surveillance agencies and third parties, use a VPN at all times.