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August 27, 2019

Privacy Tip of the Week: Cover Your Webcam and Mic

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Most internet connected devices come equipped with some form of camera. They’re great for video chats, online streaming, and taking snapshots of memories well worth saving. They’re also a vulnerability. Hackers can sneak into internet-enabled devices and gain access to webcams and even computer microphones. Since most of us keep those devices in our bedrooms and living rooms, where our lives happen, the breach of privacy from a hacked device is severe. The way to prevent these hacks, however, is incredibly simple. All you have to do is cover your webcam and mic with a piece of tape. Here’s why that’s a good idea:

  • Prevent extortion
  • Protect your professional life
  • Stop eavesdropping
  • Keep locations private
  • Experts do it

Prevent Extortion

Because most of us keep our computer-enabled devices in the rooms where our lives happen, such as bedrooms or living rooms, it’s all too easy for a webcam to catch a glimpse of the ultra-private moments we experience. Simply by getting dressed for work in front of a camera, a compromised device can snag snapshots of us in our birthday suits. Hackers can then use these photos as a form of blackmail: pay them money to prevent the photos from being released, or do tasks on their behalf. If you cover your webcam, those photos can’t be taken in the first place.

Protect Your Professional Life

Hackers won’t always let you know they’ve stolen photos of you. Sometimes they can get more money by releasing the images online. If inappropriate photographs stolen from your webcam are released, they could be found if someone were to look you up. For example, if you’ve recently applied for a job, your prospective employer might do a background search of your internet history. By finding compromising images of you, it can hurt your job prospects.

Stop Eavesdropping

Many people know that you should cover your webcam. But did you also know that you should cover your microphone? The mics on your devices can actually be hacked just as easily as the cameras. That means private conversations can be eavesdropped on and sensitive information spoken aloud can be stolen. Taping up the microphone on any devices that have one can help to muffle speech, but you can also plug in an unconnected 3.5 mm cable to stop the mic from working altogether.

Keep Locations Private

Although there are other ways to access someone’s location, hackers can potentially learn of your whereabouts through clues they gather by peering through webcams. This can lead to unwelcome stalking, especially for women or public figures. Taping over the webcam stops this from being possible.

Cover Your Webcam Because Experts Do It

Although there are some trends started by celebrities that you shouldn’t follow, such as fad diets or steaming your, ahem, private bits, there are a few worthwhile tips they have to offer. Many of the top security experts in the world cover their own webcams and recommend that you do as well. It doesn’t harm your devices and the added privacy protection is worth the 30 seconds it takes to do.

To protect yourself further, browse the web privately and safely with HotBot VPN.

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