One of the most privacy-invading things that malware can do on your computer, is activate your webcam. With a webcam turned on, the malware can record or stream everything that you do in front of your computer. In a home office scenario, this is a bad enough invasion of privacy, but it can be so much worse if your computer is in the living room or a bedroom.
Fortunately, there are some actions you can proactively take to protect yourself from this ever happening to you.
Unplug your webcam
One of the easiest options is to unplug your webcam from your computer. If it’s not plugged in, it can’t be hacked. This option is very effective, but it can be annoying to do if your webcam is plugged in at the back of your computer.
This option also isn’t really suitable for laptop owners as you can’t exactly unplug the built-in webcam.
Moving the webcam
If it’s too difficult to unplug the webcam when you’re not using it and plugging it back in when you do want it, you could try moving the webcam instead. Some monitors have a stand with a pillar, if you put the webcam on the back of this, it only has a view of the back of the monitor. Alternatively, you can turn the webcam so it’s facing at a nearby wall.
Again, neither of these options really work for laptops.
Get a webcam cover
The issue of webcam privacy has been pretty public for a fair while now, so there are plenty of webcam covers that you can buy and stick over your webcam. Most allow you to slide a door out of the way so you can use it when you want to, rather than having to remove it completely. This option is ideal for laptops as there are many webcam covers designed for the small built-in webcams.
Tip: If you need a quick and easy webcam cover, try some opaque tape, such as duct tape. It’s not ideal but is effective.
This option may not work with all free-standing webcams as the size of the lens may be too big for some webcam covers.
Use an antivirus scanner
If you’ve got an antivirus program installed and run occasional scans, then you’re much more likely to find and be able to remove any webcam monitoring malware that may have infected your system. You should already have and use some form of anti-virus anyway, just remember to keep it up to date.
All of these tips work for Windows computers, or computers with different operating systems, such as MacOS and Linux. Webcam covers can even work on mobile phones if you’re concerned about the cameras there too.