Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently posted a photo to announce Instagram s 500 million users milestone. The photo though went viral after a Twitter user called Chris Olsen, zoomed into his picture to point out that the laptop on his work station, assuming that s his, had tape stuck on the webcam and the audio port. Also Read - Facebook Messenger becomes third non-Google app to garner five billion downloads on Play StoreAlso Read - How to silence autoplay videos on Facebook and Twitter
It s ironic that Zuckerberg who runs the world s largest social networking platforms that has over billion users worldwide is paranoid about the privacy. Well, he did use a dumb password like dadada for his accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, which were hacked recently. That said, taping webcams and audio ports isn t really that crazy. In fact it is one of the oldest methods to keep hackers at bay.
Edward Snowden in one of his recent interviews had pointed out similar techniques to stop someone from spying your devices. In the interview, Snowden explained how a smartphone s camera and microphones are the weakest links that enable a hacker to break in. And if the two components are removed or blocked from a smartphone, it becomes very difficult for hackers to gain any information.
About three years ago a security consultant Egor Homakov had revealed an exploit in Flash that could have allowed hackers to gain access to users camera or microphone. The exploit could work with browsers like IE10. Google later acknowledged the issue and fixed the bug in Chrome with version 27.0.1453.116. In April this year FBI Director James Comey had admitted putting piece of tape over the webcam on his personal laptop.
Now the bigger question is, if Mark Zuckerberg is paranoid about being watched by hackers, should you also be worried about the same as well? Probably yes. Just because you are not a famous personality, you cannot be complacent about cyber attacks. Other than sticking a piece paper or tape to the camera like Zuck, here are some other ways you can secure your laptop s webcam from getting rigged by hackers.
If you use a standalone webcam, you should consider keeping its firmware up to date. Like most electronic devices, manufacturers of webcams also release timely firmware updates, and it would be a good practice to make use of the software improvements.
Although bypassing firewalls may not be impossible for an advanced hacker, it is wise to keep your firewalls turned on. Firewalls help monitor legitimate traffic travelling in and out of a computer, thus making it harder for a hacker to get in your computer.
The easiest way to gain access for hackers is via the existing malware in your computer. Therefore, always install anti-virus softwares in your computer. You should diligently clean your computer of any kind of malware and reduce your computer s vulnerability to be hacked.
Webcam protection software
Like Apple Macbooks, not all laptops have a notification light to show if the webcam is on. Also, it s not really safe to assume that if your laptop as a camera notification LED then it can not be hacked. Even though it is primarily a hardware component, the notification LED can also be rigged in some cases. Therefore, it is wise to install webcam protection softwares on your computer, which notifies you every time the webcam is active.
Shut the laptop when not using
Not to be paranoid, but this is like a last resort kind of tip you should consider. Whenever you are done using your laptop, just shut its lid and keep it aside or keep it facing a wall. Forget about the hacker for a minute, just don t let your laptop watch anything you wouldn t want anyone else to see.