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Is it possible for hackers to get into my webcam? - Spycam Lizard

Is it possible for hackers to get into my camera?

Can hackers remotely access my webcam?

Technically, yes, a hacker can access the webcam. This is called "Camfecting". If the computer has been compromised and some malware has been installed, there is almost no limit to what can be accessed in the computer. This include recording images, video or audio, or live remote-viewing. Unfortunately, this also includes key-logging, screen-capturing and file scanning, potentially worst things.

We know that the FBI can conduct investigation this way, I expect these cases are highly targetted as it demands a lot of effort. Otherwise, we don't hear a lot about strangers breaking in a computer to tap the webcam. Criminal hackers will rather have keyloggers or fishing botnets installed, this way they can automatically harvest passwords and feed them into scripts that will try to login websites and validate/steal. The systems are automated so that the hacker has little manual work to do, they can just reap the rewards.

There has been reported cases of blackmail where an attacker obtains revealing picture of the victim, but this is usually performed thru social engineering and pressure rather than actual technical hacking.

The people who will install webcam-hooking "Spyware" on computers are:
-Parents on their children's computers
-Jealous girlfriends
-Pervy boyfriends
-In the media we have heard of schools and/or work installing such spyware on laptops.

So in most cases the webcam spyware is installed on the computer by someone who already has access to the computer, so it really doesn't require a hacker to do the job. Such software is easy to get (ex: ) , requires no skills to use, and often cannot get detected by anti-virus because it has been authorized for installation.

Can a virus record video from my webcam?
Technically yes. If a virus is running on the computer, it has access to everything. If the virus is designed to access to the webcam, it can.

Does being offline protect me from hackers taking over my webcam?
An offline computer has less chances of getting infected in the first place. Is also has no chances or broadcasting a live view. However, if a malware is running, it can record images and video, and keep them on the computer. If the computer goes back online at some point, technically, a virus designed to do so could make these recording available to an intruder.

How can I know if there is an intrusion to my webcam?
The first sign is that the webcam light turns on for no reason. But even then, this is not evidence of an intrusion. A more reliable sign is if the webcam starts mal-functionning sometimes. Webcams are not a shared resource, and can only be used by a single program at the time. SO if you try to use your webcam and your app gives you a "Cannot connect" error message, it could be that another hidden process is already using it. Of course, it could be that it is not connected, that too many USB devices are in use, that the drivers or the webcam is broken, or that the webcam is disconnected.

If you run a search for images or video files on your computer, and you find media recorded from the webcam that you did not record yourself, this is a clue that something odd is amidst...

Finally, there exist some "webcam firewall" software that warn you when a program is about to access the webcam.

Would an anti-virus or anti-malware detect a hacked webcam?
Unlikely. If the webcam is compromised by a virus (or some malware), the virus might get detected. But spycam software is in a gray area; it might have been installed legitimately, and it probably does not contain suspect self-replicating code.

What should I do if I have reasonable reasons to think my webcam has been hacked?
You could unplug the webcam's USB cable. Or deactivate it from the computer's BIOS in case of a laptop.
But me, as a computer expert, if I ever feel my computer has been compromised in any way... I nuke the hard-drive it and re-install everything. Having malware on your PC, nowadays, is a real threat, with actual real-world consequences. Disconnect the network, backup all your data, format and restore.

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Can a hacker get into my webcam?
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