A recent surfacing of some old ransomeware malware has had some people really concerned. But viruses can be much more sinister (and creepy) than just encrypting your files and holding them ransom. What if hackers could come into the privacy of your home and use your webcam to spy on you?
Well, they can.
And they are.
We have firewalls, Anti-Virus programs and defense in depth to prevent people from getting access to our precious data. But what many don’t realize is how incredible simple it is for malware to turn on a victim’s webcam and microphone to record a person from almost anywhere in the world.
Let me give you an example.
What if a hacker sent a teen, your teen in fact, a malicious file? And what if your daughter ran it and it allowed the creep to access her webcam and watch her?
So in essence, the teen is just checking her mail, or social media messages, and clicks on a file that doesn’t seem to do anything. So she just goes on to the next message.
But on the attacker side, he see’s this:
A live video feed!
Okay, before I get a ton of e-mail complaints, this is my daughter and she volunteered to be the “victim” for this article.
But she in fact did run a program that allowed me to fully control her laptop webcam.
And I could control her microphone too…
It is not just malware that is of concern. Putting an unsecured or lightly secured video cam out on the web can be just as unnerving.
Recently, a dad came into their two year old daughter’s room to hear some guy on their internet enabled baby monitor talking to her:
“As Gilbert walked down the hall and entered the room, he says he heard the voice say, “Wake up Allyson, you little [expletive].” The camera on their trusted baby monitor then rotated to watch Marc walk into the room as he rushed to unplug it.”
There are tons of open and lightly secured video cams out on the web and all are easily findable by using the Shodan search engine.
Users need to be aware of these possible invasions of privacy and need to secure their systems against them.
Do not put any device on the internet that is just using the default password. Use long complex passwords. Or better yet, don’t put it on the internet at all!
To secure your home systems – Keep your Anti-Virus, Operating System, and security software up to date. Never click on unsolicited links or programs sent to you in e-mail or social media sites.
Some may even prefer to turn off, block or unplug their cameras or microphones when not in use.
Be safe out there. Remember that many current threats can easily bypass Anti-Virus. You need to practice and teach your children safe surfing techniques.