How to protect your webcam from hacking

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General tips and best practices

Generally speaking, if you keep your device up to date, be it your PC or smartphone, or any other device with a webcam, it will mitigate the risk of being hacked. This is because updates come with security patches, making it harder to exploit old bugs.

On top of that, most devices will also let you choose which programs can access your webcam and microphone, making it harder for intruders to gain access to your device (PC Settings – Privacy – Camera).

It is also advised not to open or download any unknown software or exes, or even click on random links that you might receive via email or other social networks. Most of them are keyloggers or other types of software that can even take control of your webcam.

You should also protect your home/work network and not join open networks, as you are more vulnerable to attacks when connected to such networks. Unfortunately, all of this might not be enough to protect your webcam from being compromised.

The problem

Cutting off access to your webcam and not installing malware may make you think that you are immune and that your webcam cannot be hacked, but that is not true. In fact, as long as your device is connected to the internet and someone really wants to access your webcam, they can get it with the help of advanced hacking tools.

Hardware Solutions

The only real way to make sure your webcam isn’t hacked is to simply unplug said device from your PC. It might seem like a hassle to plug it in and out depending on usage, but if you manage your cables properly, that hassle is worth the added security of knowing that no one will ever be able to access your webcam with malicious intent.

If there is nothing to access, there is no way to get a live video stream from your device.

It gets a little trickier with devices that have built-in webcams because these can’t be unplugged. In most cases, people just resort to tape the webcam with something. It may seem like a lot of DIY, but as long as the intruder can’t get their hands on your live video stream, their attempts will have less power.

strip on webcam

At the same time, most webcams and devices also have microphones and this piece of tape can’t help you much with that. Ultimately, the best case scenario is if you have a dedicated webcam that can be physically unplugged from your PC/laptop.

Confidentiality at risk

The only conclusion most people come to when trying to figure out how to protect their webcam is how little control they have over their privacy. Besides the very specific situation where you can completely unplug your webcam and you have no other camera/microphone on your PC, there is no situation where you are safe.

Recording your webcam is a band-aid solution that can at least mentally help you feel more secure, but it’s impossible to cut off access to built-in microphones on devices like laptops and smartphones because they are so tightly integrated with everything.

Ultimately, by keeping your devices up to date, not clicking on dodgy links or software, and protecting your network, you are doing most of what you can practically do to protect your webcam. This is the sad reality of the 21st century.

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