Is Your Phone Camera Hacked? You Probably Never Considered It
Summary: This 3-minute article explains how to know if your phone camera or webcam is hacked and what you can do about it. If you have further questions, contact GEEKAID Computer and Network Support at https://www.geek-aid.com/. They offer a wide array of home and business IT solutions for your computer systems.
The onslaught of the pandemic spawned unprecedented use of desktop, laptop, tablets and mobile phone cameras. Video conferencing for working and socializing quickly became part of daily routines. Unfortunately, the more connected devices are used, the more likely they are to be attacked by cybercriminals.
Can Hackers Hack Your Camera?
Cyber security is no longer an “install anti-virus software and you’re done” endeavor. Today, there are so many vulnerable elements to protect that the average user might not be aware of them all. For example, many users don’t know about camera hacking or “camfecting.”
What Is Camera Hacking?
Camera hacking is the remote activation and control of a webcam on a connected device (desktop computer, laptop, tablet or cell phone) without permission. When this breach occurs, the immediate threat is that your webcam can become a device for spying on you and your surroundings. If your webcam can see it, so can a cybercriminal.
Is My Webcam Hacked?
There are several severe threats to webcam security. The principal cyber vulnerabilities that are entry points for camera hacking are:
- Malware In Emails, Texts, Social Media and Applications – Hackers count on the impulsivity of users. By attaching or embedding malicious code in applications, texts, emails and social media, cyberthieves trick a user into clicking and opening the malware. Once it is opened, hackers can gain remote access to the user’s webcam.
- WiFi Routers – Unsecured routers are common targets for cyberattacks. After breaching your unprotected router, the hacker can break into all your webcams. Therefore, changing the factory default password on your router to a unique and more complex one is vital.
- Video Conferencing Platforms – Video conference applications such as Zoom are potential cyberattack entry points. Imagine the potential for the exponential expansion of such attacks. Small to mid-sized businesses could unwittingly expose their clients, vendors and employees with whom they’ve had video conferences to webcam hacks.
Signs of Camera Hacks
How can you tell if your camera is hacked? There are several key signs to look for:
- A Blinking Camera Light – If your webcam’s “on” light is on or flashing when you are not using it, you might have been hacked.
- Unusual Battery Drainage – If your cell phone, tablet or laptop battery seems to be draining too quickly, it could mean that malicious software is operating in the background without your knowledge or permission.
- Cyber Extortion – If any unknown source contacts you about sensitive or personal images they have of you, it is likely that you have already fallen victim to a camera hack.
Webcam hacks must be taken seriously. Businesses infected by camera hacking can lead to corporate espionage, personal attacks on employees and expansion of the overall attack landscape. In the worst-case scenarios, webcam hackers can stalk employees at the office and home or breach security footage in buildings to plan robberies and other criminal activities.
How to Prevent Camera Hacking
Fortunately, there are some simple and cost-effective ways to prevent camera hacking on your connected devices:
- Update All Software – In addition to having robust and up-to-date anti-virus software, all applications and system software should be as current as possible. Developers often release essential security patches with new updates for free. Therefore, your cyber security plan should include installing all updates within 30 days of release.
- Protect Remote Access Work – The dramatic increase in remote access work since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has created new entry points for attackers. If you work from home or manage employees who do, make sure everyone working from home is trained in company best practices and cyber security protocol. Having everyone on the same page about security supports a company-wide team effort to protect everyone’s devices and private data. A few key training points include never using public WiFi (unless using a VPN), increasing security settings on any video conferencing apps you use, thinking before clicking on attachments or links and knowing where videos are stored in your system.
- Use Mobile Device Security Tools – Part of IT maintenance involves protecting your devices from camera hacks. Password management software can create difficult-to-guess passwords out of multiple, random and unrelated letters and symbols. Good password managers will also store your passwords securely, adding another layer of cyber security to defend against cybercrime.
- Got Tape? – Placing a piece of tape over the camera lens is the most straightforward protection against a webcam being hacked. However, if you use the camera often, this method can become tedious and easy to forget.
Every day, millions of new devices are connected to the Internet. With each new endpoint connection comes a new cyber security vulnerability. The target landscape for cybercrimes grows all the time, and threats to our privacy and the security of our data are increasing too. The only lasting solution is making cyber security a priority and using all the available tools to protect your computer systems at work and home.