If you think your webcam is safe and you are only using it when required, think again!

Ten years ago the idea that people, be they government agents, hackers, or just law-breaking voyeurs, could actively spy on you through your computer’s webcam would be the considered the ramblings of a paranoid conspiracy theorist at worst or a hypervigilant privacy advocate at best. A slew of news stories over the intervening years, however, have revealed that what was once considered paranoia is now an uncomfortable reality.

If you are working somewhere and possess a fancy official laptop, chances are your laptop user rights are limited and the IT guy in your company has all the access. Avoid using your offical laptop for your personal use and exposing yourself in front of the laptop. The integrated webcam and the microphone is not your friend and someone might be spying on you.

A 30-year-old man in London was found guilty of fiddling with three women’s computers so he could spy on them through their webcams.

The media loves a good spy story, but should you take the risk of security breaches and spying through your webcam seriously? Yes, we think so. Why take the risk when it’s easy to prevent.  Don’t be a victim of a leaked privacy.

Why has Mark Zuckerberg taped over the webcam and microphone on his MacBook?

Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, is apparently paranoid enough about hackers that he took the extra security step, in a move to shut down any prying eyes savvy enough to gain control of the camera. He dabbled in a little hacking before starting his venture with social media, so if he’s covering his webcam, you should at least consider that security measure for yourself.

Zuckerberg posted a photo of him celebrating 500 million Instagram users. Observers spotted that the webcam above the screen and the microphone to the left of the keyboard were covered with tape. Do you think he is stupid, no he definitely not.

Chris Olson, who works for enterprise software vendor Replicated, made the original observation.

How to Disable your Webcam?

Desktop webcams:
If you’re using an external webcam on your desktop, then unplug it. Even the most expert hacker can’t plug an unplugged USB device back in. Simply unplug it and plug it back in when you need to use it.

Laptop integrated webcam:
On most Dell and Lenovo laptops you can turn it off in the BIOS – you’ll find an option for ‘webcam’ or ‘camera’ with an lock/unlock or enable/disable toggle. To turn off your webcam just lock or disable the function. Other laptops will require you to visit the Windows Device Manager and disable or remove the webcam under the ‘imaging devices’ category.

If you are not at all a techie, just cover it up! In handy, you can put on sticky-notes on your webcam which can be removed easily. Otherwise a bit of DIY with some tape and a hole punch will cover your webcam perfectly.