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Computer Webcams Can Be Remotely Activated Without Showing Any Green Light

Infinity
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Computer Webcams Can Be Remotely Activated Without Showing Any Green Light

Although specifically discovered in a Macbook...

The process of activating the camera without the light seems, in actual fact, is relatively simple.
All the person behind it needed to do was write a piece of software that essentially split the camera and light into two different entities, and from there, the camera could be seen through in a discreet manner.
Government agencies have been known to use these kinds of tactics for purpose of criminal investigation, as per the case of the aforementioned extortion, such techniques are floating around in public hands.
The only way to be sure that somebody isn’t spying on you through your MacBook’s FaceTime camera, would be to place a piece of tape, or other opaque material over it.
And it's not just Macbooks, this may apply to any computer with a webcam.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2013/12/18/research-shows-how-macbook-webcams-can-...
13 REPLIES
RPMozley
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Re: Computer Webcams Can Be Remotely Activated Without Showing Any Green Light

That requires malware to be installed and executed on the system before any possible remote activation could be initiated. The article doesn't mention how said malware could get on to the MacBook. Clearly they were just running it themselves on the machine just to see if it could be done.
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Re: Computer Webcams Can Be Remotely Activated Without Showing Any Green Light

Question is can they see through a camera thats never plugged in or is covered with masking tape?  Wink
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Moderator
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Re: Computer Webcams Can Be Remotely Activated Without Showing Any Green Light

Just because you can't see through masking tape with your restricted vision doesn't mean a webcam with it's wider frequency range can't Wink

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Re: Computer Webcams Can Be Remotely Activated Without Showing Any Green Light

The NSA demends that all webcam manufacturers submit special drivers to them to enable the non-visible spectrum capability that is not available to normal civilian users.
Now, the big worry is that the webcam on my netbook has no LED indication anyway, neither does the one on my phone or my tablet, anyone could be watching me at any time doing anything  Undecided
Doesn't some anti-theft software rely on the remote activation of webcam function (without giving the fact away)?
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gnicholson8
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Re: Computer Webcams Can Be Remotely Activated Without Showing Any Green Light

I KNEW someone was watching me while I was on my PC this morning Wink hope they enjoyed the show.
Infinity
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Re: Computer Webcams Can Be Remotely Activated Without Showing Any Green Light

According to the study, which is reproduced in full here,
https://jscholarship.library.jhu.edu/bitstream/handle/1774.2/36569/camera.pdf?sequence=1
the hack can be used with "Apple internal iSight webcams found in earlier-generation Apple products, including the iMac G5 and early Intel-based iMacs, MacBooks, and MacBook Pros until roughly 2008."
But could this happen to owners of newer Macs?
In the words of security researcher Charles Miller, it could happen, but it's less likely since it would take a "lot of work and resources."
Still, it's probably best to put a tiny square of electrical tape over your camera if you want to be absolutely sure.
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Re: Computer Webcams Can Be Remotely Activated Without Showing Any Green Light

Many PC cameras can have the telltale light turned off on. I do this with some of the CCTV cameras (aka Webcams)  I use with the software used to stream them on the network.
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Re: Computer Webcams Can Be Remotely Activated Without Showing Any Green Light

Quote from: PlusComUK
Still, it's probably best to put a tiny square of electrical tape over your camera if you want to be absolutely sure.

See above, I already suggested the use of some tape but the nay sayers said nay...
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Re: Computer Webcams Can Be Remotely Activated Without Showing Any Green Light

Webcams and mobile phone cameras can see infra-red.
This is how I test a TV remote when it doesn't appear to be working, by aiming it at my phone camera I can see the IR-LED light up.
Can't test ultra-violet sensitivity as I don't have a UV light source but it wouldn't surprise me.

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Re: Computer Webcams Can Be Remotely Activated Without Showing Any Green Light

YesI know they can see IR, I also test remotes the same way however they can't see IR through a solid object!
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digitalham
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Re: Computer Webcams Can Be Remotely Activated Without Showing Any Green Light

I always cover mine with tin foil. If it gets lost I can always tear a tiny bit off my hat to replace it.
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Re: Computer Webcams Can Be Remotely Activated Without Showing Any Green Light

^ LOL ^  Cheesy
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Re: Computer Webcams Can Be Remotely Activated Without Showing Any Green Light

Makes sure you fit a Billion pixel camera on your PC/Laptop - the hacker will get fed up of waiting for the feed.
I always assume the camrea and sound is turned on, but why anyone would want to see my unshaven face at 7am defeats me.
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