Study Shows People Unaware of Webcam Hacking
Communications technology has become exponentially more advanced in the last 25 years. But has communications security? And are people even aware of the risks to their own security? A recent study found that half of all laptop users did not know or were not aware that it was possible to hack a computer’s webcam.
The study was conducted by CamPatch, a webcam company, and concluded that about “1 in 2 Americans clueless about webcam hacking.” The release called webcam hacking “the latest trend in cybercrime” and stated that 51% of laptop users did not know it was possible for hackers to hack into webcams and look at you at any given time. They can even record your actions using your own webcam against you. CamPatch does sell products that can help protect you from that level of spying. The fact that it is possible for someone to hack into your webcam and view everything you’re doing is a troubling and disturbing fact.
“Experienced hackers can access a webcam in less than a minute and can even turn off the light which shows the webcam is on,” said Parham Eftekhari, President and Founder of CamPatch Webcam Covers. “Webcam hackers are the ‘Peeping Toms’ of today, and this problem is only going to get worse.” Whether the company has come up with a unique gimmick to help sell webcam patches, or is truly trying to raise webcam hacking awareness, it put together a cool infographic which summarizes the study. The company asked, “Please share this to help increase awareness on this important issue!”
Maybe most folks don’t realize how easy it is to hack a webcam? There was a huge scandal after a Philadelphia school secretly used webcams on school-issued laptops cameras to spy on students. Then Aaron’s was accused of key logging, taking screenshots, and capturing video via the webcam of a rented laptop prior to repossessing it. Although Aaron’s supposedly runs software called “PC Rental Agent” for remote capture to “assist rental companies in the recovery of lost or stolen computers,” the court denied the injunction in that webcam case. Most cyber-peepers combine malware and social engineering, be it via an email or a malicious site, to infect a machine with a Trojan and take control of a webcam. Recently, after Dharun Ravi used a webcam to spy on his gay college roommate who later killed himself, the Washington Post reported that Ravi’s sentencing renewed the hate crime law debate.
That study made women look a bit technically challenged, claiming “more than 6 in 10 women were unaware of the risk, compared to 40% of men. Additionally, 57% of Generation Y study participants were unaware” of the risks of webcam hacking. This shocked me. According to the CamPatch Academy study, 62% of users have their webcam-equipped laptop in the living and 44% in the bedroom which implies all kinds of privacy-invasive possibilities; webcam snoops could get an eyeful. Furthermore the study claims that 6 out of 10, or 60%, of laptop users who work in academia said they were unaware of web camera hacking, compared to 52% of non-government, 29% of government and 17% classified as others.