General Question

ScottyMcGeester's avatar

Can hackers use your webcam without making the indicator light turn on?

Asked by ScottyMcGeester (1866points) June 3rd, 2017

They always say nowadays that hackers can get into your webcam and spy on you. But many webcams have some kind of indicator light whenever it’s being used. For example, whenever I’m using mine a blue light turns on around the webcam. Can hackers even get around that function?

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39 Answers

imrainmaker's avatar

I don’t think that’s possible not 100% sure though.

chyna's avatar

I’m a paranoid person, so just in case, I have taped mine over.

Darth_Algar's avatar

It might be paranoia, but when you see tech guys like Mark Zuckerberg with tape over his webcams it’s not unwarranted paranoia.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Some of you might remember this very disturbing situation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robbins_v._Lower_Merion_School_District. It’s a stranger-than-fiction story that really happened. The most troubling part? Each laptop had been programmed to erase any trace that an unsuspecting student were being watched and recorded.

si3tech's avatar

@ScottyMcGeester Mine is taped over too.

ScottyMcGeester's avatar

Yeah I’ve taped mine for years, but it just recently occurred to me “Wouldn’t I know if someone uses it based on the light?” I don’t know if it also blinks the light when taking a picture though.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Every one of the guys I work with has the webcam taped over and ~half have a dummy plug in the mic port. And these are tech savvy guys!
Mine is taped as well.

Rarebear's avatar

I don’t bother. I would be a very boring person to watch.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I tape the webcam, the mic is vulnerable as well. It’s not paranoia.

SavoirFaire's avatar

From what I can tell, the answer appears to be a qualified yes. And according to a former insider, the FBI has figured out how to do it.

cinnamonk's avatar

My webcam is also taped over.

Brian1946's avatar

I am Meduso, the Unobservable! My paramount pleasure is petrifying peeping perverts!

Actually, I don’t have a webcam.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

I have both camera and mic on my laptops taped over and turned off/disabled. Not paranoia; I only have to know something is possible once.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I know a retired FBI support technician. He says, “Where you been, fella? Yes, of course they can. They have been doing it for years and now that capability is even greater with the latest generation of communication device tech in TVs, phones and computers that have been on the market for the past two years. And, if we can do it, hackers can, too.”

So, it’s not just the camera in your laptop you should be worrying about, but the audio/visual capacity in your phone and that little microwave receptor in the front of your new flatscreen TV—which is accessable by the net via your coaxial cable. Even better if you have fiber-optics. And these devices can now be weaponized, just in case somebody mistakenly takes you for a terrorist.

If the gov has it, then the top hackers do as well. Many of them are former government agency workers. And they share their knowledge with other hackers, who share the tech with other hackers, and so on. And who do you think these agencies hire to hack? Hackers.

USA Today: Now even the TVs are allegedly spying on you

Microsoft Warns of ‘Orwellian Future’ As WikiLeaks Exposes Participation With Surveillance

Cnet: The CIA’s hacking secrets explained

The Guardian: How Your TV Can Be Spying On You

CIA Hacking Secrets Revealed

Sydney Morning Herald: WikiLeaks claims to expose CIA’s ability to ‘weaponise’ smartphones, TVs and computers

WikiLeaks dump includes alleged CIA files on how to turn TVs into surveillance tools and crack into smartphones

See Vault 7

See for yourself: Wikileaks Vault 7 docs download

If you don’t believe American intelligence and security agencies don’t regularly break their charters and illegally spy en masse on US citizens, then if need be, share that information with other agencies, I suggest you read about COINTELPRO, first exposed in 1971 and has been at it ever since.

Muhuhuwahahahahaha! Sleep well tonight, my fellow Jellies.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

^^^ I’m looking at you right now, @Espiritus_Corvus. Nice boxers!

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

^^My god you’re good. You like?

dabbler's avatar

Yes, the camera and indicator light are independently controlled by software on most devices with built-in cameras, so if you’re hacked the camera could easily be in use without the indicator telling you. Tape and plugs are a good idea.

chyna's avatar

@imrainmaker So after the answers on this thread, are you taping yours over now?

LuckyGuy's avatar

Here’s a little more fodder for you if you’re the worrying sort.

Any TV that has gesture control can be modified to watch and listen to you without your knowledge. Read the privacy statement that comes with the TV. They say they own the data.

Also that wonderful device that supposedly only wakes up when it hears : ‘OK Goggles” or “Ok Alicia” or whatever code words are used to turn on the light is actually listening all the time. It too can be modified. You have no idea where a transcript of your conversation is ending up.

SergeantQueen's avatar

It is possible.
They can get into your devices even when turned off, they put it in a “fake off” mode so it’s not technically off, only looks like it.

I’d strongly suggest you look into the Vault7 WikiLeaks, that @Espiritus_corvus. The CIA can do everything that @LuckyGuy said, along with controlling smart cars. (One reporter, who was going to give WikiLeaks information, was killed when his smart car crashed into a tree. Witnesses say it was like a freight train going past he was so fast)

I heard even the CIA and FBI are covering their cameras with tape. Scary stuff, man.

imrainmaker's avatar

I don’t know @chyna I don’t use my laptop that much. Also as someone said above my life isn’t too interesting to watch either (as of now). Let’s see i will give it a thought in future!!!

LuckyGuy's avatar

If/when you tape your camera, use masking tape with a piece of black elelctrical tape on the the back. (I also scribble over the black electrical tape with black Sharpie marker. On the sticky side, place another piece of masking tape in the center, sticky side to sticky side, so you don’t get adhesive on your camera and get dirty.
To silence the mic we made a run of parts on one of our CNC screw machines. You can effectively do the same by plugging one end of an old Aux cord into your mic jack and either stripping the wires and twisting them together or wrapping a piece of foil over the contacts so they are shorted out.

imrainmaker's avatar

Thanks @LuckyGuy. I’ll keep that in mind.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

@LuckyGuy I keep the TVs unplugged because I rarely watch. I only use a little flip phone along with a landline in the house. I’ve taped the cameras and mics on the computers. I have felt like my house was covered. Should I do anything else. I take this stuff seriously.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@MollyMcGuire Don’t buy the “latest and greatest” device that “makes it easy” for you to control your life. Get a TV that has a remote that you have to push to change the channels.
Also if you have one of those electronic picture frames that Target and Home Depot were selling a couple of years ago – ditch it.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

@LuckyGuy Thanks. No problem; I don’t buy electronic gadgets…......even can openers. I have two laptops and a desktop, a flip phone, and two TV connected to nothing. The wifi in my house stays turned off; I only use ethernet connections.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@MollyMcGuire You and I will be the last two standing.
I d onot have cable for my TV.
To watch commercial TV I use the same roof antenna that I’ve had for 30+ years. I do have a Roku that is connected via an Ethernet cable. i use that to watch Netflix, Youtube and other free channels,. The Roku is registered to an email address I made up and only use for that purpose. All the info tied to the account is false.
The thermostats in my house are stand-alone and are programmable 5/2 day, 4 settings per day. I do not need any more flexibility than that. I certainly don’t need a Nest which snoops to see if anyone is home. I do not need a refrigerator connected to the web to tell me I need eggs or milk. I do not need a vibrator connected to the web that tracks and reports usage to the manufacturer and who knows who else.
My music is from AM/FM radio from the air waves or from an old device i bought 10 years ago for running. My GPS is a stand alone Garmin.

I am not a Luddite. I will use tech when it offers an advantage greater than the cost or loss of privacy.

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Coloma's avatar

Haha…no, I don’t have my webcam taped over, but I am also the most un-paranoid person alive. I also don’t lock my house, keep my car keys in my car at all times, and walk around the property in sandals, to hell with the rattlesnakes. LOL
I’m with @Rarebear , if someone wants to spy on me, knock yourself out. If watching me eat almonds in front of the computer turns you on, have at it. haha

Strauss's avatar

^^Now I need a cold shower!

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MollyMcGuire's avatar

@LuckyGuy I think I have found a kindred spirit. :)

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