Over the last year, most of us have probably been on webcam for more hours than we’ve ever been before. With social distancing and stay-at-home orders, the pandemic has made video the main way we stay in touch.
Between December 2019 and April 2020, the number of daily meeting participants on Zoom skyrocketed from 10 million to over 300 million. An increase of 2900%!
Other video meeting services like Teams and Cisco Webex saw similar massive increases in user counts as everyone went online for video meetings, events, even awards shows.
But there is one danger with webcams that’s much worse than having bad lighting. Hackers can use a tactic called Remote Access Trojans (RATs) to tap into your webcam and see things you might not want them to.
How Hackers Get Into Your Device Cameras
Most people are carrying around a camera with them wherever they go via a smartphone. We are also in front of cameras most of the day if you have a job where you work on a computer a majority of the time.
In fact, most desktops and laptops now have cameras built in, visible by a small circle at the very top center of the screen casing.
This presents an opportunity for hackers to infect a device through a RAT and turn off the indicator light that lets a user know a particular app is using their camera and has it activated.
Through this tactic, hackers can record whatever they like and watch you without your knowledge. RATs can also include code that records keystrokes, allowing hackers to get their hands on your passwords, any credit cards you may input into a shopping site, and other sensitive information.
The RAT can be introduced in a number of ways, just like other forms of malware:
- Through fake remote support requests
- Phishing emails
- Malicious link sent via social media or direct message
- Mobile malware embedded in an app
Why would hackers want to activate and record your cam without you knowing?
There are a few different reasons:
- An attempt to blackmail you with inappropriate images (or the threat of inappropriate images they don’t actually have, which is more common).
- To gather intelligence by hacking the cams of those working at specific companies and organizations handling sensitive information.
- Malicious conduct simply causes trouble (similar to the reason people “Zoombomb”).
Remote Access Trojans will typically give a hacker administrative control of a computer or mobile device, so accessing the webcam maybe just one of the things the hacker is doing through the RAT.
How to Protect Yourself from Webcam RATS
Cover Your Cam
You can stop any cam spying immediately by using tape over your webcam so that even if it’s on, nothing can be seen. Painter’s tape is a good option because it’s designed to come off easily without leaving any residue behind.
Keep Your Antivirus/Anti-Malware Updated
Make sure you have a good antivirus/anti-malware on your devices (PCs and mobile devices) and that you keep it regularly updated so it can detect the newest threats.
Use a Device Firewall
If you use Windows 10, there is a built-in firewall that you can turn on for added protection against unauthorized intrusions.
You can ensure it’s on by typing “firewall” in the bottom search box on your Taskbar. Choose “Firewall & network protection” to visit your system settings and ensure the firewall is on.
Be Vigilant About Phishing Emails
94% of malware is delivered via phishing emails. It’s important to stay vigilant about any unexpected emails coming into your inbox.
It’s best to assume an unexpected email is phishing until proven otherwise, rather than the other way around. Some tips for staying protected from phishing include:
- Hover over links without clicking to see the true URL
- Don’t trust the “From” email, as these can be spoofed
- Use a DNS filter to block any malicious websites
- Use a spam/phishing email filter
Keep Your Operating System & Software Updated
Unpatched system vulnerabilities leave big opportunities for hackers to get into your device. Make sure you are regularly applying all updates to your OS and any software in a timely manner.
Shut Down When Device is Not in Use
Many users just let their PCs go into hibernation mode when not being actively used and rarely shut them off. This allows a hacker a much bigger time window to get in and cause problems.
Turn your computer off completely when it’s not in use. This keeps anyone from being able to access it remotely.
Get Security Solutions for Phishing, RATS, and More!
Magnify247 can help your Tipton, IN area business with proactive solutions to keep your devices protected from RATS and other forms of hacking.