Webcam security is probably something you have never given much thought to. You might have a friend that physically tapes their web cam and think that they are being a bit paranoid, but are they really? Criminals will do anything to make a buck and if they can do that via a webcam do you have any doubt that they would? I read this recent posting on quora that got me thinking about that very question.
It is well established that operating systems and applications of all types are insecure due to the complexity of code and lack of proper security reviews throughout the development and release process. Simply put any vulnerability at the operating system or application layer that grants sufficient privilege to the attacker could lead to the compromise of your web cam. So the possibility definitely exists that someone could compromise your webcam. But to paraphrase a poster on quora what would a hacker gain by doing that? Let’s examine the potential threats
Why would a hacker want to hack a webcam?
Here are just a few possibilities this list is not meant to be exhaustive but just to show you that there is plenty of motivation and potential financial gain by doing so.
- To gain access to pictures that can be used for blackmail or financial gain. How much would someone potential pay to keep embarrassing photos out of the public domain? I imagine this could become quite a source of revenue especially if someone in the public eye was the victim of this type of attack. Granted that this is called blackmail and has serious potential legal repercussions but so does hacking and that did not stop the hacker up to this point.
- For information to know what is happening in a given location covered by the webcam. This factor comes into play more when a webcam is setup to provide security for a high value location but could also be relevant if a home is particularly pricey or a prime target for physical theft. This one may be of a bit more of a stretch vs. option #1 but is definitely within the realm of possibilities.
- To terrorize the person on the other end of the webcam. Lets face it there are some sick and twisted individuals in the world who just like instilling fear in others and causing pain. Imagine the damage they can do if they control your webcam and you have not implemented any kind of security controls over your webcam.
So what can you do to protect yourself from these webcam security threats?