What is Webcam Hacking?

It might be hard to believe as the truth, but nowadays webcam hacking, also known as "camfecting" is a real threat to all of us using a computer. Webcam hacking is a process in which someone takes over another person’s webcam. In other words, certain hackers have ways to hack into remote webcams and watch people in their ordinary day to day life activities. Chances are, that if you have a webcam and online, there might be someone out there watching all what you do too.

The Basics of a Webcam Hack

How does webcam hacking occur?

Webcam hacking is just another type is malware infection and most commonly occurs when downloading a program that has a hidden Trojan inside in. Keep in mind though, Trojans are not the same as viruses, as they do not spread through replication. Trojans are hidden on programs that you install on your computer on purpose and often the purpose is a webcam hack. Once on your PC, Trojan malware looks and finds a way to activate the cameras without you even realizing.

A way to avoid such occurrences is not to visit questionable websites and never installing anything on your computer from an untrustworthy source. Webcam hacking is not limited to Trojans, they can also come in a form of phishing email. An email like that would have questionable links in its content. Another way that hackers use to hack into random webcams is by using remote administration tools known as RAT. RATs are installed on your computer in a way that a virus would be, after opening infected files that are often shared in the P2P file-sharing downloads. Once a RAT is installed on your PC, the hacker can access all of the user’s private data, restart the computer on their own accord, open and close the CD tray and of course activate the webcam.

What is the gain in hacking a webcam?

There are many reasons why someone would like to hack a webcam. For some people it is just fun and no other intentions. For them it is almost like watching a movie or being part of someone else’s life. Then there is another group of people, known as Cyber Criminals who do so to obtain as much personal information and even photos of the victims. Afterwards, the photos can be used in blackmailing schemes. A worst case scenario is hackers monitoring your home and learning when it is most vulnerable to robbery. However, what is the most scary about webcam hacking is that there is someone out there making you lose your privacy. Webcam hacking is a breach of online security.

What are the Signs of a Hacked Webcam?

Indications of Webcam Hacking

Sadly, it is not possible to know if your computer has a malware infection that controls your camera and a webcam does not have any activity logs, so technically there is no way to know if someone has access to your PC. A sign to look out for is your camera’s LED light blinking randomly. If this occurs, try restarting your computer and check if the camera is still blinking after about 10 minutes. If that were the case, open the Task Manager and look for winlogon.exe.

If you see more than one copy of that program, make sure to disconnect from the internet and run a full system scan with an anti-virus program, because your computer is infected. Of course, random LED flashing does not always mean that a hacker is watching your every move, but better be safe than sorry.

Steps you can take to avoid being webcam hacked.

There are some steps that you can use to avoid this type of online intrusion. Always use anti-virus software on your devices - meaning not just computers - but phones and tablets too. Another way to ensure safety is via a secure Wifi connection, so make sure that your router at home has a difficult to crack password that only you know about. One of the easiest ways you can go about protection is putting some tape on your camera, so if you are not technically savvy, it might be a solution for you. Mark Zuckerberg is using this method himself. Here is a list things to do and not to do in order to achieve the ultimate protection against webcam hacking:

- Look for light. A camera’s LED light flashing, blinking, turning on and off is a clear indicator that there is something wrong. Do not ignore it.
- No to suspicious attachments - Stop clicking without thinking. Try not to open any suspicious email attachments, as they are the prime source of malware. Also stay away from websites that offer free downloads on anything like music or TV shows.
- Use an anti-virus - Use a strong anti virus software on your computer in order to prevent malware and spyware and make sure to update your software.
- Secure your wireless connection- Make sure that your wireless connection are protected by strong password.
- Do not turn off your firewall-  You already have a firewall on your PC, but make sure that it is on. It will protect you against any unwanted traffic.

Famous Example of Webcam Hacking Tools.

Blackshades: A trojan you want to know.

A Trojan to really look out of is the one that goes by the name Blackshades. It is used to control computers remotely and most commonly targets PCs with Microsoft Windows based operating systems. They completely take over your computer without you being aware of it and not only control the webcam, but steal all your personal information like usernames, passwords, browsing history. They also copy the files that are stored on your computer, gain access to your social media accounts and instant messaging softwares. It has been established that over 500,000 computers worldwide have been infected with Blackshades but chances are that the webcam hacking numbers are even higher, considering the many options that are out there to do that, the unreported cases and unaware people.

The name actually refers to an organization owned by a Swedish man known as Alex Yucel. He is the person responsible for developing the trojan horse which then became sold on different pages for as little as 40 dollars and allowed people to spy on complete strangers. Once someone purchased the Blackshades malware, they would have to install it on their target’s computer. To do that a victim would be deceived into clicking a malicious link. And the rest is history.

Blackshades: How to know if you are infected.

If you worry that your PC might be affected by Blackshades, then there are certain things you can look out for. When infected with Blackshades, a PC usually showcases symptoms like mouse cursor moving erratically, computer screen turning off while in use. The more serious signs are your online accounts details changing and unauthorized bank transfers online. Some affected people cannot even open certain files on their PC as they become encrypted. It has been established that Blackshades mostly affects windows based operating system, so another thing you can do to check for the Trojan is search your hard drive for files like these:

  • dos_sock.bss
  • nir_cmd.bss
  • pws_cdk.bss
  • pws_chro.bss
  • pws_ff.bss
  • pws_mail.bss
  • pws_mess.bss

If you realize that your computer has become infected and you are a victim webcam hacking, make sure to contact your internet provider and report the issue. If someone is already blackmailing you, then you should contact the police as soon as possible.

Let your friends know!