Details are emerging about the latest hacking technique which is being used to spy on women in their own homes. Powered by downloaded software, which the user is tricked into downloading, the technique allows hackers to gain access to your webcam.
How your webcam can get hacked
The main method used thus far to drive downloads of the illicit software has been spam based email marketing, which once again serves as a reminder to never click on any links served in these kinds of communications.
Such advice can seem obvious, but it appears that this particular hack is using some pretty well hidden download links. These are buried in photographs and music, as well as everyday ‘advice’ based articles, such as diet tips and recipes. It’s important to note that these sorts of articles are only dangerous in the context of a spam email, not in the context of content based websites that you may navigate to.
These links are not dangerous unless you click the, in which case the download will commence. Once downloaded, the hacker gains control of your web cam via a ‘remote administration tool’ (RAT).
This particular hack came to light when a 16 year old from London confessed to gaining remote access to more than 100 webcams.
The unnamed boy, codenamed ‘John’ told investigators: “I wasn’t really looking for anything, just their reactions. I’d open random sites [while the person sat at their computer] – shock sites – they’d see a scary picture or someone screaming, and you’d see they were scared.
“There are creepy people who post pictures of female slaves. I’m not really
into that. Yeah, it is illegal. But the risk of getting caught isn’t that
much. It’s just a bit of a laugh.’
Fortunately however, the risk of getting caught is there, as evidenced by the case of Matthew Anderson. Anderson infected over 200,000 computers with a downloaded virus and after being found guilty, was sentenced to 18 months in jail. Anderson had used his software to view hundreds of women in their own homes, some of them as young as 16.
How to avoid getting your webcam hacked
This is a relatively simple hack to avoid, and as is usually the case, simple best practices apply.
The Governments ‘get safe online’ campaign are on the case, and are setting about educating the general public about how hackers actually go about accessing peoples computers.
Tony Neate, who’s involved in the government scheme, told us “The most at-risk computers are those running older software, and those without up-to-date anti-virus software installed.”
In terms of practical advice, the safest option is to purchase reliable anti-virus software, and to ensure it’s always up to date. Even simpler advice, is to cover your web cam when you’re not using it, ensuring that even if your computer is infiltrated, you’re not going to get seen in your own home.