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Charity warning over webcam hacking

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 22 Jun 2013 3:59 User comments (3)

Charity warning over webcam hacking A charity in the UK is warning Internet users about a trend of webcam hacking, where hackers switch on webcams on compromised PCs to remotely view victims.
Childnet International is warning that webcams should be disconnected or covered up when not used, and shouldn't be left in bedrooms or other private areas. A BBC Radio 5 investigation found websites where hackers exchanged images and videos of people they had recorded after hacking a PC or a laptop.

Commons Home Affairs Committee chairman Keith Vaz urged teachers to talk to pupils in schools about the dangerous of using webcams, and called on manufacturers to improve security.

The BBC also tells the story of Rachel Hyndman, 20, from Glasgow, who was reportedly watching DVD while in the bath when she noticed that the smell LED light indicating that her laptop's webcam was active had turned on. "I was sitting in the bath, trying to relax, and suddenly someone potentially has access to me in this incredibly private moment and it's horrifying," she said.

"To have it happen to you without your consent is horribly violating."

Horrifying indeed, but is there really anything new to the story? For many years now, trojan horse malware (or now commonly called remote access trojans, or RATs) provided a hacker with considerable control over a victim's PC, including full hard drive access, full control over software that is run, the ability to capture screenshots or even record the screen, turn on a connected webcam or microphone and so on.

In fact, some anti-theft software for laptops, phones and tablets even have these remote viewing features built in to be used in the event that a device is stolen.

Behind the scenes, things may have changed as nowadays access to compromised PCs can be sold for very small amounts of money.

Most of this kind of malware finds its way to victims' PCs by tricking them into clicking on links to maliciously crafted websites that exploit potentially unpatched web browser (or browser plug-in) bugs, or by convincing the victim they need to install certain software, like a video codec.

Keeping a system up to date with the latest security patches, running anti-malware utilities and using common sense will thwart most efforts to compromise a home PC. That is probably what needs to be better taught to the public, rather than simply disconnecting a webcam "just in case."

Tags: Childnet
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3 user comments

122.6.2013 10:28

That's assuming you have a webcam or are on a laptop with a built in webcam. I have my webcam covered at all times when not in use on my laptop. As for my desktop, no camera. Assuming also they manage to take control of my pc though.

Edit: Just what the heck is a smell led light? LOL. These typos in all these news articles are making we wonder if these publishers even proof read their work before publishing.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 22 Jun 2013 @ 10:30

222.6.2013 20:01

I have a little light next to the built in webcam on my laptop. I would know if someone is watching me. If you want to watch me email boring clients, be my guest. All I have is a work laptop.

323.6.2013 11:53

But we have to make a big deal about Xbox one having a camera ! Meanwhile when's the last time u heard of malware on Xbox . And all your phones and laptops have cameras and your exact location

Hack a bit, invest a bit, work a bit, jerk a bit

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