Are you scared by all the news stories suggesting that hackers can spy on you through your computer and gadget cameras?
My mother has been really concerned about it and I understand how scary it can be. It is almost overwhelming and really annoying when all these “advances” in technology bring new challenges and require more education!
You don’t need to worry though, I’m dedicated to calming your fears and giving you the information and help you need so you can relax and enjoy your toys again.
Despite the potential dangers, webcams are great tools for chatting long-distance with friends and family, and conducting business.
When you understand how they work and how to secure them, you will feel much better and have more fun. Enjoy!
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Internet-enabled security cameras and baby monitors are becoming more and more common because they are inexpensive and easy to set up. These gadgets connect to your Wi-Fi network and they are a great way to keep an eye on kids, aging parents and your possessions.
However, many people don’t follow the directions when setting them up and leave the default username and password in place. Hackers have made it their business to know all the default login information for every gadget on the market. If you don’t change the factory settings they could find your camera online, log in, and watch you or put you on a website with thousands of other cameras for curious snoops to browse.
The solution is easy: just remember to change the default password when you set up any type of new gadget. If you buy a camera that doesn’t have a password, exchange it for a different model.
Once hackers get on your computer, they can use programs to turn on your webcam without triggering alerts like the webcam light. Thus, covering or unplugging the camera when not in use is a good idea.
However, hackers could still have full access to your computer. They could rummage through your email, browser history, passwords, documents and anything else they want.
And, of course, when you do use the webcam, they can eavesdrop.
To get on your computer, hackers use a remote access tool, or RAT. That’s what tech support agents use to get on your computer remotely to change settings or fix a problem. Fortunately, remote access tools require your permission, so a person can’t just take control without your permission.
However, hackers have many ways to trick you into letting them on to your computer — fake email attachments, malicious links, Trojan viruses, and phony tech support calls. Once you’re tricked into running a file, clicking a link, or inviting them on to your system, they can take control and do whatever they want.
More Good News!
The solution is pretty simple. Just avoid unsolicited email attachments and links, run up-to-date security software and don’t believe anyone who contacts you claiming to be tech support for a major company.
Operating systems on your computer may have a remote access tool (RAT) built in. This makes it easier for real tech support to get on your system, but it also makes it easier for a hacker to trick your system into letting them on.
To turn off Remote Assistance in Windows, go to Start>>Control Panel. In the Search box in the upper right corner, type “remote” and then click the “Allow remote access to your computer” link.
Uncheck the “Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer” option and click OK.
For Macs, go to the Apple icon and select System Preferences. Click the Sharing icon and uncheck Remote Login, Remote Management.
If you use a company laptop, it could have similar software on it. Companies are supposed to disclose the presence of that kind of software but they don’t always do it, so if it doesn’t belong to you, be mindful of what you do on it.
Tablets and smartphones also have cameras but I haven’t heard of any malicious apps or spying apps that can trigger the camera. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, or won’t exist in the future but I will let you know if that changes.
A word to the wise….if there is something you really don’t want the world to see, don’t put it on your smartphone or tablet.
If you have any questions or comments about this or if you have any suggestions for future tips, please post a comment below and let me know. I always love to know what you think and how I can help you. Thanks!