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Webcam Spies: Why You Should Cover Your Laptop Camera ASAP

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If you’re worried about webcam spies or cyber hackers obtaining your most confidential information, your paranoia is well-founded. You know this is a serious issue when even Mark Zuckerberg himself put a piece of tape over the camera on his own computer:

Let’s take a closer look:

So why the growing concern about hackers and cyber spies? It’s getting easier than ever for predators to access your information. If you’ve ever had to call an IT support line for your computer, you’re likely familiar with them accessing your device remotely so they can diagnose the problem. This is great because it saves you a time-sucking trip to a store for in-person support. However, if the good guys can access your computer remotely, so can the bad guys – and the bad guys won’t ask your permission first.

Webcam Spies and Other Access Through Multiple Devices

In an age where it’s not uncommon to own a laptop, smartphone, and tablet, there are more and more windows for cyberstalkers to peer into your life without you knowing it. Peeping Toms have been around since the beginning of time. However, a webcam gives them easy access to the privacy of your home without them having to leave their home.

So how do they break into your private devices and access your personal data? All it takes is a rat. Or, a RAT – a Remote Access Trojan, which is a malware program that provides a hacker’s computer with back-door administrative control over the target computer. 

How does a RAT get into your computer? A RAT can gain access by hiding in a seemingly legitimate email attachment, sneaking into a software program like a video game, or hopping along on downloaded software or files from an unknown source. Unlike their rodent namesake, RATs are rarely visible to the naked eye.

Here’s what the RAT is capable of doing on the target computer:

  • Observing your user behavior and learning your online habits
  • Replicating information from the letters and numbers you type
  • Accessing your credit card number, social security numbers, and other highly confidential information
  • Turning on your webcam and recording what it sees
  • Taking a screenshot of your desktop
  • Flooding your computer with additional viruses and malware
  • Interfering with your drive
  • Downloading, deleting, and making changes to your files
  • Commiting online crimes in your name

An Easy Solution To Protect Yourself

While this sounds scary, keep in mind that you don’t have to live in constant fear. There are countless resources and tools to help protect your information and rid your devices of harmful malware. Here are four ways to keep RATs from infesting your personal computer and private information.

  1. Keep your antivirus software up to date. This is your strongest piece of armor in the cyber world. When you get a notification to update your software, listen to that suggestion!
  2. Run periodic virus scans. Just like you should make regular appointments with your dentist and doctor, your computer needs a check-up here and there to ensure that it’s healthy and free of malware.
  3. Don’t open attachments or download software from sources that aren’t trusted. These attachments and ads may seem legit, but it pays to not trust everyone online. Your data and computer will be healthier as a result!
  4. Donate to a cause that helps protect user privacy. Organizations like Tor Project advocate for data protection against online predators. If you make a donation, they will mail you several stickers to use on your various cameras. 

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