Generally, a webcam feels private, but they aren’t. If you are talking to someone using a webcam and that person records you, they could share that video or the stills from it with others. They can also share that information online through social media and email it to someone else.
That’s a little disconcerting, but the true worry comes from hackers who use the webcam as a window. They can watch you through it and use it as a gateway into your computer and its personal data. In fact, it’s easy to let in a hacker. If you click on a fake link in an email, malware software can be added to your computer. Most Windows-based OS options have antivirus software included, but this may not be enough to protect your privacy. Many people need more security.
Another way hackers get into your laptop is when you use an infected USB key.
While webcam hacking isn’t that common, you should still be proactive and sensible when it comes to using your built-in webcam. There are many tips out there to protect your privacy and make sure that your camera is solely yours, and no one else can use it.
Use Electrical Tape
When you aren’t using Windows at all, put some electrical tape over the camera lens. Even if you turn on the device to utilize some software, no one can see you. Some laptops make it easy for software settings to turn on the webcam. With something covering the camera, all anyone can see is blackness. This can help to keep your device secure, though you should focus on other security options and settings to protect yourself even further.
If there comes a time where you want to use the webcam, you can easily remove the tape. Keep a roll right by the laptop, so you’ve always got it around.
Use the Right Security Software and Features
You should make sure that you’ve installed your webcam correctly. It automatically comes with security software, so you should activate and utilize it. When the webcam is pre-installed on the PC, laptop, or smart television, check to ensure that the security features are activated. Remember, this device uses Wi-Fi, and you must keep your webcam private through the right settings.
Create a Strong Password
Manufacturers often set default passwords for the products they sell, and Microsoft Windows is no different. However, that means those products are vulnerable to malware and other things hackers utilize. They can scan the internet to find those flimsy passwords.
Keep your webcam secure by creating a new password when you first get the product. Sometimes, older webcams don’t have a password, but you can still set one up to restrict access in Microsoft Windows.
You can find a variety of password-generating websites out there to make it easier on yourself. Make sure there are symbols, numbers, and letters in lower-case and upper-case. Never use a sequence of numbers or letters, such as 123 or ABC.
Secure the Internet Connection
Your personal safety is at risk, so it’s important to make sure that you have a secure internet connection when you’re online. It’s possible to prevent the bad guys from gaining control of your devices without your knowledge. To do that, you can:
- Change the default password on the router. Ensure that you are using the latest version of WPA2 (Wireless Protected Access) security encryption to protect the internet connection and Wi-Fi.
- Hide the Service Set Identifier (SSID). This is the name given to the wireless network. If this name is broadcast, other people in the area can see the network and try to jump in, even if there is a password.
- The password and SSID can often be found on the sticker beneath the modem toward the back. Check the manual to learn how to change the password and turn off your SSID. Alternatively, you can call your ISP for assistance with your system.
Install Some Security Software
Your computer system must be protected at all times. Users often believe that their laptop comes with the right security measures in place. Though Windows does include the Defender, it might not be enough.
It’s simple to run the antivirus software and scan your system using the free and included tool. That way, you know your devices are protected and can prevent untoward activity from a fake website. Whenever there are updates to your computer, the BIOS, or anything else, ensure that you take the time to run them and download/install them. This simple task is something most users forget about, but you can set it up to where the updates happen automatically.
If you notice the camera light turning on when you’re not using the webcam, disconnect your devices from the internet immediately, and run the antivirus scan.
Disconnect the Webcam
If you’re using an external webcam, a simple solution for most users is to unplug it when you’re done with it. The light should immediately go out, and it isn’t connected to your devices.
Consider Mobile Device Options
You like to be online for most of your day. The smartphone is connected to the internet, so you can Google and go to any website you want. Most of the time, the camera is built to be a webcam. Look to ensure that they are password-protected and change any default passwords. You can also install some security software on your phone. This gives you more control. Though it could be easier to jailbreak the device, you could be doing significant damage. These settings are built to protect your device from unwanted malware.
Focus on the Kids
If you have children, they probably have a favorite site or two. There are plenty of apps to use and video options to watch. Google is a great way to learn, and email keeps them in touch with family and friends. They may even utilize the phone or computer to call others.
The kids need to know that what happens on a webcam is not private. Anyone can record/post a video of what happened and anywhere on the web. Make it clear that they shouldn’t do things on a webcam that they don’t want people to see.
- Monitor young kids and look at what they’re doing with the webcam. Children don’t often think of the consequences of what they’re saying or doing.
- Most kids enjoy creating videos and uploading them on various apps like YouTube. Ensure that the videos are set to private or that you’re comfortable with what they want to post.
- Always request that your kids get permission from you before making a video call.
- Don’t let them open links in email or on the web. You can disable the webcam anytime.
- Explain to them that if someone blackmails or threatens them, they should exit the webcam and chat immediately and tell you. It may be necessary to change the network. Cover the webcam when it isn’t being used or after something untoward happened.
- Know where the webcam is at all times. It should never leave the computer area. Disable it or cover it with something when it isn’t being used. If you find that the webcam is gone from your home computer, find it and take it away for a while.
Be Careful about Downloads
If you must download an app, movie, or music, only do so from official sources. Don’t utilize free content. It can have malware on it that gets put on the computer when you open it.
Avoid Attachments/Links from Unknown Sources
Take the time to look at the web URL and don’t click on something you don’t know is true. Your network can scan for malware and viruses, but it’s best if you avoid the problem altogether.