Tips to protect your webcam from being hijacked

Are you being Spied on? Someone is Watching you!

While it’s technically possible for someone to remotely hijack your webcam — and see you in front of your computer without your knowledge — it’s not likely this will happen. But it is becoming more common. Here are a few steps you can do to proect your privacy.

  1. First, never download or open any files from someone you don’t know. And if someone you do know sends you something that seems fishy, pick up the phone and call to make sure the file is legitimate before you open it. Getting you to download a file is the main way that hackers trick you into installing spyware on your device.
  2. If you’re using an external webcam — one that plugs into your computer’s USB port — connect it only when you need it. Yes, it can be a pain to remember to plug it in whenever you want to Skype or Facetime with someone, but at least you’ll know 100 percent you aren’t been spied on if there’s no camera connected.
  3. Some external cameras have a small cover you can close over the webcam lens, so be sure you take advantage of this when you’re not using it. If your webcam doesn’t have a cover, you can point it to the ceiling until you need it, or place a piece of electrical tape on the front of the webcam — but don’t place it directly over the lens or else it could damage it.
  4. If your laptop or desktop has a built-in webcam, be sure to have good computer security software installed (which you should have anyway!). A good security suite includes antivirus, anti-spyware, a firewall and other tools to help keep the bad guys out. Good web browsers like Internet Explorer should also notify you if your webcam is being activated. On a related note, most video chatting websites, like Chatroulette, will warn you it’s about to enable your webcam (e.g. “Press Start to enable your webcam and mic”).
  5. If you need to have your computer repaired, take it to a trustworthy source. Check to ensure your device doesn’t have remote-access programs on it that you didn’t install yourself, such as LogMeIn, Splashtop, TeamViewer and so on. If you find something suspicious, immediately uninstall it and bring your computer to a trusted source.

Finally, be sure your wireless network has strong security settings and a good password to prevent outsiders from accessing your Wi-Fi network without your consent.

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