Why yes, malware can make your webcam spy on you

Over a year ago I wrote a post about whether your webcam could be watching you. In that post I looked at whether a webcam could be made to spy on its users. The answer, unfortunately, was yes, and I provided examples of two cases in which the actual owners of computers used software to spy on (1) students using computers loaned from school or (2) people renting computers.

I also discussed the concept, theoretically, of whether malware users download could enable your computer to spy on them Of course, the answer was yes to that as well, but there weren’t many cases in the wild of this actually occurring.

Well, it has happened, there is now malware that will take control of your webcam. I know this not because of an article, but because it happened to my father. He was surfing the web, and all of a sudden saw himself on his web cam. Next thing he knew, a message popped up claiming to be from the FBI, informing him that his computer was infected and he needed to pay money to fix the situation. I think the amount was $250. This particular piece of malware is called the FBI Moneypak Ransomware Virus.

Fortunately, it wasn’t actually that hard to remove the malware, my sister took care of it (why yes, we are a rather techy family) but still, how frightening? The idea that you could easily lose control of your camera and be seen in intimate moments, or your children could be seen while they are changing, or sleeping.  Imagine those pictures ending up on the web. What an incredible violation of your privacy.

For assistance removing the virus, see the botcrawl website’s instructions.

Putting that piece of duct tape over your webcam doesn’t seem so crazy any more, does it?



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