SECURITY

Should I cover my laptop's web camera?

Know if your laptop web camera has been hacked

In Summary

• With the growing digitization, Baaru says that cybercrimes are on the rise and, covering the webcam is just a tip on the iceberg.

• “Hackers are now developing new tactics to gain access to your computer."

A laptop with a covered webcam
A laptop with a covered webcam
Image: MARGARET WANJIRU

I am sure you have seen some of your colleagues attend meetings or do work with tape or stickers over their laptop cameras and wondered if you should cover yours as well.

Baaru Muchiri a security expert told the Star on Thursday, that covering your computer’s webcam is a security measure that one should take as a precaution against hackers.

“While you may think the likelihood of falling victim to attackers is minuscule, many laptop users will agree that it’s better to be safe than sorry,” he said.

With the growing digitization, Baaru says that cybercrimes are on the rise and, covering the webcam is just a tip on the iceberg.

“Hackers are now developing new tactics to gain access to your computer. The issue comes in if they find personal data, files, financial details, passwords and more, they could use that to blackmail you,” he said.

“One common way these hackers attack is through email, when a user clicks on an unfamiliar link, a programme is opened, installed and hidden in the device. Without them knowing, the cyber-criminal remotely control the laptop’s webcam and other apps and files, depending on the type of malware.”

He advised people to avoid connecting to unknown open WI-FI’s as hackers can use unsecured connections to distribute those malwares.

“Hackers can create a fake WI-FI hotspot and trick users into connecting to their connections. From there they can access their account names and passwords,” he said.

Baaru advised on keeping an eye on clicking random Ads on the internet whether on phone or laptops.

“This sneaky type of hacking is on the rise now, and what’s alarming is that they are even on trusted sites. When you visit sites with those ads, you are automatically and unknowingly downloading computer viruses,” he said.

Most users do not understand the risks of falling into the hands of hackers, who may distribute deadly malware, plant sophisticated viruses or infected software on their mobile phones or computers without notice.
Most users do not understand the risks of falling into the hands of hackers, who may distribute deadly malware, plant sophisticated viruses or infected software on their mobile phones or computers without notice.
Image: COURTESY

Adding that people should look out for the webcam’s indicator light, which is right beside it and in case it is turned on, a video conference is activated. If you are not keen enough, you might not notice when the light is on.

“Browsers sometimes can have extensions that turn on the web cam light; if you notice that anytime you open your browser, delete it immediately,” he said.

To protect yourself from the cybercrimes, Baaru advised people to know how to identify emails that come with suspicious links or insecure links and attachments that require clicking or downloading.

“Some will say, “you have won something”, “laptop has a virus”, “or just “download”, if you are downloading something,” Baaru said.

He advised installing Ad blockers in the laptop or phones to avoid falling prey on such malicious acts.

“Also have a cybersecurity plan in place. Update your computer programmes regularly and install a premium anti-virus software. Install softwares that are known to protect your devices and scan for threats regularly,” he said.

 

Edited by CM