Cover Your Laptop/PC Camera RIGHT NOW!
Some may call it “paranoid” to cover a laptop webcam with a piece of tape. But others – including leading tech and academic gurus – say it’s one of the smartest things you can do to protect your privacy. In recent years, thanks to the addition of cheap and accessible “creep-ware” like the type that was famously used to spy on former Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf a few years back – spying on unsuspecting females is simpler than ever. You don’t need to be a computer genius to do it. There have been countless cases of hackers accessing everything from baby monitors to security cameras. While covering a computer’s camera doesn’t protect the device from being hacked, it does prevent a creepy hacker from being able to see what your camera sees (i.e. you in all of your good, bad and ugly glory). Here are 15 reasons to tape up that webcam
It’s one of the most low-tech cyber security solutions around, but a surprising number of experts agree that covering your laptop webcam is one of the best ways to protect your privacy.
Mark Zuckerberg Does It
You’re A Woman
While cyber stalking and spying affects all sexes, women are particularly vulnerable to the modern day “Peeping Tom.” In 2011, Luis Mijangos – a wheelchair-bound man from Southern California – was slapped with a six-year stint in prison for using webcam malware to spy on more than 100 women and girls (disturbingly, nearly half of them were under 18). He also used the microphones to record audio. Hundreds of unknowing women who have been hacked and snapped by strangers are currently on threads on hacker forums filled with images of what the “classy” hacker community calls “slaves.” When we already have to deal with creepy dudes on the regular, why add another potential layer to this? Think about it: some guy – whether the creep who lives down the street, a jilted Tinder reject or a total stranger – could be getting off watching you in your bra and hot rollers singing to 90’s hip-hop videos on YouTube (or worse).
The FBI Recommends It
You Can Freely Walk Around Naked
Academics Advise To Do It
Not only do Mark Zuckerbeg and the FBI recommend covering up that computer camera, so do leading academics. John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, says that cyber hacking is more common than we think. He told CBC that hackers will often trade access to hacked computers, saying that the same kind of software is used to hack political dissidents, members of activist groups, and journalists. “These are people that are regularly targeted by different hacking groups because of their work, and in some cases we have evidence that they’re spied on through their webcams,” he said. Naturally, he covers his camera too. Not surprisingly, the sentiment is echoed by tech experts, who stress the frequency in which hacking occurs. Their view is backed by research: a 2015 report by the Digital Citizens Alliance calls hacking a growing problem for consumers, particularly young women.
Spying Is More Common Than You Think
It Costs You Nothing
You Can Avoid Dropping Dollars On A Lawyer
Simply covering your laptop with tape, Post-its or stickers means that you’ll avoid spending the cash it takes to properly defend yourself in court against your hacker. While the whole discovery of being secretly recorded – and then blackmailed – is traumatic enough, confronting your hacker in court will take a major toll on your wallet, whether you like it or not. In major metropolitan centres, lawyers can cost between $200-$400 dollars an hour. While the revenge of seeing your hacker behind bars is enticing, it definitely comes with a pretty hefty price tag once the hours with the lawyer start to accumulate. In addition to draining your bank account, court cases eat up your precious time, while reopening the wound of being hacked in the first place, when you’re forced to face your once faceless attacker. It’s much more affordable to go out and buy a roll of masking tape.
You Can Avoid Being Blackmailed
In addition to getting off in their own creepy way by seeing images of you via your webcam, hackers often have another agenda all together: to make money off of you in your state of vulnerability. Alternatively, they may blackmail you for racier, more lewd photographs or videos. For example, Miljangos would “sextort” victims by contacting them and threatening to make nude images and videos public unless the women voluntarily posed for more. But this extreme case is not unique. Beauty queen Cassidy Wolf was sent a photo series of her in various stages of undress as she was changing by a classmate, who demanded everything from better quality videos, to a five-minute sex show on Skype, or he would make the images public, compromising her beauty pageant success. When you’re feeling exposed, vulnerable and desperate, it’s easy for hackers to further take advantage of you via blackmail.
We’re On Our Laptops More Than Ever
You Can Keep All Of Your Silly/Embarrassing Habits To Yourself
Whether it involves signing to YouTube videos of Celine Dion at the top of your lungs, mowing down on a tub of peanut butter with a spoon or sniffing your armpits for hints of BO, we all have habits that we’d wouldn’t even want our significant others to know about. Let’s not forget the times when you take your laptop with you to the bathroom while on a deadline. Then there’s your secret love for porn, and the faces you may make when watching it. We especially don’t need a total stranger witnessing us as gross and vulnerable as we come. The next time you consider not taping up your camera, picture the possibility of you in all of your shamelessly raw and gross glory hitting the Internet and being viewed in living rooms and bedrooms across North America.
You Can Class It Up
You Have Enough To Worry About In The Online World
You Don’t Want To End Up On The Black Market
You’ve Seen Snowden
Fuelled by our curiosity of the whole situation and the appeal of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, many of us have seen the biopic Snowden by now. Of course, the film reveals the illegal surveillance techniques that were leaked to the public by Edward Snowden, one of the agency’s employees. While the film deals with sometimes difficult-to-digest subject matter, it’s been praised for its realistic depiction of technology and hacker culture. It succeeds in making the subject matter accessible to a mass audience. One scene in the film features a clip on Gordon-Levitt glancing nervously at his laptop camera while engaging in an intimate moment with his girlfriend. Pop culture – especially when it involves a film based on real (and terrifying) revelations – has a unique way of affecting us both consciously and unconsciously (how many times have you gone to sleep with the light on after watching a horror flick?).
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