How to Tell if your Webcam is Hacked?
You might not hear of webcam hacking incidents, but it isn’t new. In 2014, a Russian website was found streaming live feed of thousands webcam across different countries like the UK, US, France, and the Netherlands. Various monitoring cameras including offices, baby monitor, and computer & laptop cams were hacked at that time. The website had the listing of 4.5K from the US, 2K from France, and 1.5K from Netherland. It also had live footage from other small countries.
The hacker reported to BBC that he didn’t consider himself as a hacker as these webcams had least securities and weak password. Does this news ring a bell? Well it should, every online device is at risk and webcams reveals too many personal details. So we should always pay attention to the security of the computer so that no one could hack the webcam. The biggest question is how to know if someone has hacked the webcam. In this article, we will tell you a few methods to identify and some tips to avoid webcam hacking.
How is Webcam Hacked?
Hackers and cybercriminals take the various approach to get the access of your computer and attached devices. Their primary objective is to make a way to install a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) into the victim’s computer.
They try different ways of social engineering to enter this RAT into your computer. They might trick you with a spam email, bundled software, or webpage to install this malicious software on your computer.
Once the RAT enters your computer, it hides within system files so that antivirus and antimalware couldn’t detect it. Hackers use Command and Control servers to provide it instructions. They can steal your personal and confidential data from the computer, or they can give it the command to click pictures and videos using your webcam.
Thousands of computers have been seen infected with a single type of RAT. It grants access to hackers of your computer like you are using it. With such infection, not just your private moments are visible to criminals but with increased quality of internet and webcam they can have the internal architectural idea of your house and may use it for other serious crime.
How to know if someone Hacked your Webcam?
It is hard to know if someone is accessing your webcam and watching you. Hackers are smart enough to hide their activity and leave almost no trails of hacking. However, certain things could be a sign of webcam hacking.
Watch for the Notification Light
Almost every laptop computer comes with webcam notification light these days. Usually, it is near the webcam. The small notification light glows when an application accesses the webcam.
If you see the webcam notification light and you have not started any application that might access the webcam, then it could be a sign that someone is accessing it to spy on you.
However, this method of knowing webcam hacking is not entirely accurate. Your webcam notification light may glow due to a malfunction of hardware and software. If it is always on then, you can visit the service center and have it checked.
Webcam Process Running in the Background
Another sign of webcam hacking is the webcam process keeps using CPU and RAM even when you don’t use it. You can check in the task manager when your PC is idle and monitor all the processes.
If you see that the webcam driver is using processor power and you have not opened any app that might use the webcam, then it is suspicious.
Unknown Internet Usage
The other way to identify if someone is accessing your webcam or not is to look for unknown internet usage. If someone is accessing your webcam, that means it is taking lots of internet bandwidth. To check the internet usage, you can review the Windows task manager.
To open the task manager click on Cortana search and type Task Manager. Then click on Task Manager from the results.
Now click on the Performance tab and check the usage. If you are connected with Ethernet, then it will show the activity in the Ethernet section, and if you are connected with Wi-Fi, then you can see it in the Wi-Fi section.
If you see high internet usage even when you are not using it, then it is suspicious. High internet usage in idle time doesn’t exactly mean that someone has hacked your computer. Windows is downloading updates in the background could be a reason.
Alternatively, you can check the connection from your PC to the remote server. To do that, open command prompt and type netstat –ano and press enter.
It will display all the connections established from your computer to remote server with the process ID. If someone is accessing your webcam, then there must be a connection. You can manually search for each IP in the Google to know more about the server. Also, you can match the process ID (PID) in the task manager to know which program is using your webcam with the internet connection.
Open the task manager and click on Details tab. You will see all the process running on your computer with their PID. Click on the PID to sort it, and it will help you to match the process ID from the command prompt window.
Tips to Protect your Webcam
For some people, it is not a concern that someone is watching them over the webcam, but some people consider it a serious invasion of their privacy. If you are also concerned, then follow the below tips to avoid getting seen through the webcam.
Cover or Unplug the Webcam when you are not using it
The quickest thing you can do to protect your privacy and secure your webcam is to cover it up. Use a thick color tape or sticky note to stick on it. Even if someone hacked your webcam, they would not be able to see your activity. You can also cover the microphone of your computer.
Make sure that the tape or the paper is thick enough and blocks the view completely. Open the Skype or your camera app on windows and see if anything is visible.
Tapes are messy, they leave the glue on the lens of the webcam, and when you need the camera, it doesn’t display a clear picture. You need to clean the lens before using it. To avoid this hurdle, you can get webcam cover in a few bucks. Webcam covers come with a slider which can be used to slide the cover and use the webcam and then slide it back.
If you are using an external webcam on your desktop, then you can unplug it when it is not in use. The webcam comes with USB port which can easily be plugged in and out.
Turn off your computer when not using
Usually, when you are using the computer, you are just sitting in front of it. So it doesn’t reveal much of your private life. Moreover, when you are not using the computer, you do a whole lot of personal things that you don’t want anyone to see. So, it is a good idea that you turn off your computer or close the lid of the laptop when you are not using it.
Scan your PC for Malware Infection
Your computer or webcam is hacked when you do something stupid on the internet. There are lots of malicious websites and software on the internet. When you download or surf such sites, they can infect your computer with malware. Hackers also use spam emails to get access to your computer. They send infected attachments in such emails and when you download it on your PC hacker’s get access to your computer.
To make sure that hacker couldn’t access your webcam you need to ensure that your computer is malware free. Install powerful antimalware software on your computer and scan with it. MalwareFox is such a robust antimalware that provides real-time protection from malware. It protects your privacy by removing adware, PUPs, and browser hijackers. MalwareFox is the best choice for protection against spyware, adware, and cam-loggers.
Install latest webcam firmware and update to your OS
When software is outdated, the chances of getting a vulnerability exploited is increased. Hackers keep looking of such weakness to gain access to your computer.
Like other electronic devices Webcam also works on the firmware. When this firmware is old, hackers could exploit it to get the access. So you need to update the firmware regularly to stay protected.
Keep checking the official website of the manufacturer to know when a new firmware is released.
The same thing applies to the operating system updates. When cybercriminals exploit a vulnerability in your OS, developers fix the vulnerability and release the patch in the form of updates. So it is essential to install a security update as soon as it is released.
Be cautious with email attachments and links
The most favorite way of a hacker to lure users into the trap and hack the computer is using spam emails. The hackers could pretend to be a reputable organization like a bank, shipping company, the government organization in the email, and include such text that generates fear or curiosity. The attachment or links in the email leads you to download Remote Access Trojan (RAT). This Trojan gives hacker’s unmonitored access to your data.
That's why you need to stay cautious when you are reading emails and browsing the internet. Do not blindly download attachments from an email. Emails from the known people could have the malicious attachment. Cybercriminals could hack your friend’s email account and sent you Trojan. So confirm with the person whether they have sent it or not.
It would be better if you also are cautious while browsing the internet or social media. Do not click on random links on the websites and social media. Hackers could send infected links in your personal chat. So do not blindly click on links, if you don’t want someone to hack your webcam and stream it on the websites.
Do not install free or pirated software from untrusted sources
Lots of software downloading websites on the internet bundles malware with their popular downloads. When you download and install such a program, you are infecting your computer with your own hands.
It could infect you with spyware, adware, ransomware, cam loggers, etc. So, if you want your data untouched then do not download free or pirated software from untrusted sources. If you had to download free software, then visit the official website and download from there. Never, download a tool from third-party sites.
Summing it up
Paying attention to small details like the webcam notification light, increased internet usage, or high CPU and memory usage could tell you that someone is sneaking you through the webcam. If you want to secure your webcam, then use the internet with caution. Do not fall for some free stuff online and put danger to your privacy. Fake news or alerts via the email is also a big concern. Follow all the precautions and install an excellent antimalware that can protect you from RAT, spyware, and cam-loggers.