Is Your Computer Spying on You?

by HSG on Feb 20, 2013 in Articles from Software Fans

Computers. They’re a part of our everyday lives. Most of us couldn’t imagine living a day without them. We use them for school, work, and fun and use them to stay connected to those we love and care about. Since the invention of the web cam, millions of us use webcams to communicate with loved-ones and business contacts far away.

Web camera use has leveled the playing field for business entrepreneurs and given teenagers a fun way to chat with friends. However, solid citizens aren’t the only ones who make use of this popular modern technology. Recently, there have been reports of criminals using a type of webcam spy hack to insert themselves unseen into the living rooms and bedrooms of millions of unsuspecting users.

The Webcam Spy Hack

The most popular way criminals gain access to your webcam is through innocent-looking emails. You may receive an e-card from someone in your contacts list. When you click on it, you’re directed to another website to view the e-card. While you’re listening to music and watching animated puppies scroll across the screen, a Trojan horse is silently installed into your computer’s hard drive.

You don’t notice it. You think nothing of it. Moments later, you click away from the site and continue on with work, social networking or checking your email. What you don’t know is you’re now being watched. A criminal has installed a virus into your computer that allows him to turn your web cam on and off at will so he can spy on you.

Beyond Voyeurism – Criminals Use Webcams to Target You

Now that he has access to your webcam, this criminal can silently observe you and all the goings-on in your home. This means if you leave your webcam open on your bed while you get undressed or on the bureau while you and your significant other make love, everything you do will be watched.

This modern-day Peeping Tom isn’t just getting his jollies watching you, he may also be watching your kids. Children and teenagers are much more susceptible to falling prey to online predators and will more readily open unsolicited emails. These criminals not only watch; they can also record. Snapping photos of your young daughter getting changed or recording private conversations between your son and his friends.

Oftentimes, these predators use the information they obtain from webcam spying to blackmail their victims. They take a few photos and record private conversations and then demand money to keep the information from falling into the wrong hands. Image somebody sending you photos of your naked child and then demanding a ransom to keep them offline? It’s terrifying but it happens!

Protect Yourself from the Webcam Spy Hack

It should be easy enough to tell when someone is turning your webcam on remotely. Unfortunately, these criminals are clever. They know how to turn off the light that tells you the webcam is active. While you’re going about your private business, you’re given no indication that you’re being watched.

The best way to protect yourself from the webcam spy hack is to never open unsolicited or suspicious emails. This is your first line of defense. Oftentimes, clever hackers send messages from their own email address but disguise it as a contact you’re familiar with.

Whenever you receive any communication asking you to download something or visit another website to view something, proceed with caution. When it doubt, try contacting your friend from another website to confirm its legitimacy. Better safe than sorry.

Also, when your webcam is not in use, unplug it or, in the case of built-in webcams on a laptop, use a sticky note to cover it. This way, even if there is a virus on your computer, you’ll block easy access to your private life.

To further protect your computer, run a spyware scan on the system at least once a week. These scanners search through your entire computer for hidden spyware and malware.

Don’t fall prey to the webcam spy hack. In addition to protecting your computer, sit down with your children and teach them how to stay safe online. The more knowledge you have, the safer you’ll be.

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