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Ask Asa: Protecting Yourself From Webcam Hackers

FBI, Tech Experts Have What You Need To Know To Avoid Becoming A Victim
Webcam

(MAGAN CRANE/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Where you go and what you do might all be observed by an invisible intruder. And worst of all, you may be the one making the surveillance possible.

But there are ways to protect your privacy from the growing threat of remote webcams, CBS 2’s Asa Aarons reported Thursday.

The majority of the world’s millions of laptops have built-in web cameras. Even if you never use it, the odds are it’s there and operational, ready to follow you into a hotel room or in bed while you work at night.

“Many laptops now have 3G or wireless capabilities built into them, so being portable they can be used anywhere and can be put in places that are private, places that people might not want to be seen,” said the FBI’s Justin Vellese.

Now, imagine someone tapping into that web camera to watch you.

“That makes me a little bit nervous, actually,” one person said.

“That’s a major security issue,” another added.

It’s a major security issue that can be hard to detect.

“There is malicious software that can turn on the webcam, turn it off. It’s possible they can even turn off the light that indicates the webcam is on,” Vellese said.

With the light off, you have no idea someone is watching. It’s happening everywhere, all over the world, and it’s a crime that is growing, according to the FBI.

So what can you do?

“Have your anti-virus, anti-malware apps running constantly,” CNET’s Dan Ackerman said.

And there’s another simpler, but very effective way to deal with high-tech peeping toms: Simply put a post it note over the laptop lens. If it’s a remote cam unplug the USB.

The FBI said young women are the most targeted for this kind of crime. Parents should also have a conversation with their children about what they should do if someone contacts them saying they’ve been watching.

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