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Can cybercriminals spy on you through your device's camera?

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Monday, December 25, 2023

Let’s find out what potential risks are worth worrying about and how you can protect your privacy from possible interference from outsiders.

What "сamfecting" is and how it works

Camfecting is the process of gaining unauthorised access to a device's webcam and intercepting the video stream without the user's knowledge.

To hack a webcam, an attacker needs to gain remote access to the device on which the webcam is installed. To do this, intruders download malware onto a computer or a smartphone using social engineering techniques or software vulnerabilities.

After gaining access to the system, a cybercriminal can invisibly turn on the webcam and capture the video stream.

A widespread scheme is when attackers try to blackmail a user by claiming to have compromising videos obtained from their webcam. They usually send emails to their potential victims, threatening to upload these videos on the Internet if they are not paid a certain amount of money. In most cases, this is a typical cybercriminal trick.

It is important to note that mail providers are constantly improving their anti-spam filtering systems, so almost all such emails are automatically placed in the spam folder. However, there is still a risk that they will end up in the folder with incoming emails.

What can happen if your device's camera is hacked

Unauthorised control

An attacker who gains access to your camera can use it to monitor you or your surroundings. They can record your personal or business conversations and your use of online banking or when you enter your personal data. This violates your privacy and can lead to sensitive information getting leaked, financial losses and other negative consequences.

Online extortion

If attackers do indeed manage to get compromising material, taken with a hacked camera, they can use it for extortion and blackmail. They may try to force you to comply with certain requirements by threatening to publish this material on the Internet or distribute it to your friends.

Never succumb to threats and do not fulfil the hackers' demands. Contact law enforcement agencies instead.

How to check whether your device's camera is hacked

1. Check whether the camera is turning on without your permission

If the camera suddenly turns on without your knowledge, it could be a sign of a hack. Pay attention to light indicators or sound notifications that indicate the camera has been activated (but keep in mind that this is not an absolute marker: sometimes, the LED does not turn on when a camera is activated).

2. Check the active apps and processes on your device

A sign of compromise may be the presence of unknown or suspicious applications on the device. Uninstall such programs or review their settings to see whether they are allowed to access the camera. In order not to delete some important system files, make sure that neither the system nor you really need the application. Analysing the installed applications and searching for relevant information on the Internet will help you with this.

3. Check your device's service folders for suspicious files

A compromised camera can record material onto the device, so check for suspicious files in the folders associated with the camera or the images on it. But there may be no record: therefore, if there are no suspicious files, this still does not give a 100% guarantee that everything is fine.

4. Use anti-virus software

Anti-virus software or an anti-virus for scanning your device for malware can help detect potential threats, including a camera hack.

5. Update your webcam software

Outdated firmware is often vulnerable. Check the developer's website for software updates for your webcam. Download the latest version of the firmware.

The Anti-virus Times recommends

General principles of cybersecurity can also be applied to camfecting attacks. To prevent webcam hacks:

  • Do not forget to regularly scan your device for malware and to update your anti-virus.
  • Stay alert for software updates for your camera.
  • Control the access downloaded applications and your browser have to the camera — disable access for those programs that can do without it.
  • Check your webcam settings to make sure no unfamiliar files are in your storage folder.
  • Use a firewall to help you track suspicious connections.
  • Never open suspicious links, and never open attachments to suspicious emails.
  • Use strong passwords and change them regularly. If possible, activate biometric authentication.
  • Remember to use a VPN when connecting to a public Wi-Fi network.

#autorun #firewall #browser #hacking #extortion #surveillance #social_engineering_techniques #spyware

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