This has got to be one of the creepiest topics in our increasingly connected world. Cameras and connected devices are everywhere right now. The thought that a creep behind a monitor somewhere could be watching you right now as you are reading this post is unsettling, to say the least. But that is the reality we are living in. In 2013, a hacker told UK’s BBC Radio 5 that access to a woman’s webcam costs about a dollar and that he had access to 500 computers.
Back in 2016, the world was treated to a photo of Facebook CEO, Zuckerberg’s laptop with tape over the webcam. This opened a whole new can of worms on cybersecurity. But then you are not Mark Zuckerberg, you are not famous…yet. So do you need to cover your webcam? According to many experts, that is a resounding Yes.
There is no perfect software out there. Occasionally there are bugs in web-based technologies and applications that allow attackers to open your webcam and record video on it.
But this is only one half of the problem. Any internet-connected device that has a camera attached to it will likely have a microphone built-in as well. This effectively turns them into perfect spying tools if remotely controlled by hackers. So how do you protect your mic from being hacked?
How to protect your Mic from being tapped into
Unlike webcams, putting tape over your computer microphone does nothing to help protect you. Even using thick layers of the trusted tape does little to deter your mic from picking up audio. So how do you do it?
Most laptops have a dedicated 3.5mm audio jack. Connect a pair of earbuds that include a microphone into your 3.5mm audio jack, then cut off the earbud with the mic on it. I know, I know, you’ll have to destroy a pair of earphones. But honestly, I am sure you already have a pair of busted earphones sitting around. It is finicky but has been proven to work.
It is easy to get carried away with fear and paranoia over this whole issue. We might even feel helpless, at the mercy of the hacker but that shouldn’t necessarily be the case. The weakest part of a computer system is the human aspect. These hackers need an ‘inside person’ to open your mic or webcam to them, Malware. If we all adopt good computing and security practices to prevent these infections in the first place, we just might be safe. Then again, malware is often very good at remaining undetected for long periods of time. In the meantime then, a sticker over your webcam is a cheap, easy way to protect yourself while you’re unaware of the gaping hole in your computer software.