Camfecting refers to hacking into someone’s webcam and activating it without alerting its owner. Anything the camera can see, its operator (i.e., the hacker) can, too. It is usually done by infecting a victim’s computer with malware that lets the hacker access a connected webcam. The term is a combination of “cam,” short for “camera,” and “fecting” from “infecting.”
Read More about “Camfecting”
Camfecting has been around since around 2013 when then Miss Teen U.S.A. Cassidy Wolf was reportedly victimized. The perpetrator’s name was Jared James Abrahams. Apart from the beauty pageant winner, he pleaded guilty to hacking the webcams of 100–150 women by installing the malware Blackshades on their computers to capture nude images and videos.
Camfecting has probably resurfaced due to the increased use of video conferencing since many people have transitioned to studying and working from home.
Who Are at Risk of Camfecting?
Anyone who doesn’t completely turn off their laptops or desktops with built-in or connected webcams every day is at risk of camfecting. All smartphone or any camera-enabled phone users are in danger as well. Any computer-connected camera can be camfected.
How Camfecting Works
Camfecting starts when an attacker infects a camera-enabled computer or device with malware, typically a Trojan spyware. When successfully infected, the attacker can control the camera to record videos without the user’s knowledge or consent.
To get a better idea of how camfecting works, watch this short video:
Effects of Camfecting
Apart from having your pictures or videos taken without your knowledge or permission, camfecting also leaves the affected at risk of privacy invasion, losing confidential documents, or even identity theft. A hacked webcam translates to a compromised computer or any other digital device.
Fortunately, camfecting is an addressable issue.
Protection against Camfecting
Handy tips and tricks can help protect against camfecting. One of the easiest ways to avoid the threat is to cover camera lenses. Even tape would work. Here are more best practices:
Don’t Leave Your Computer On When Not in Use
No matter how good a hacker is, he or she can’t get into a computer (and thus its webcam) that’s turned off. Make it a habit, therefore, to power off digital devices, especially those with built-in cameras, when they’re not in use.
Keep Your Devices and Software Patched
Computer and other digital device vendors constantly push updates to help users protect against vulnerabilities that hackers may exploit to spy on them. It is thus a good practice to enable automatic updates on your devices.
Disable Camera Access for Apps That Don’t Need It
Limiting the number of applications that can access devices’ built-in cameras will help users who don’t turn them off when not in use. The fewer apps connected to the camera, the less likely hackers can find anything they can exploit.
If turning your computer off is not an option because you are downloading files or updating software, installing an antimalware solution may also help. That way, even when left on, hackers won’t be able to install malware on it.
Use Specialized Software
Another option is to install software specifically designed to prevent camfecting. Stop Being Watched or Webcamlock are examples of this application type.
For the more tech-savvy, process monitoring to check for applications accessing your device’s camera without permission can help. On Windows computers, you can do that via Process Explorer. Mac users, meanwhile, can use Activity Monitor. If applications that shouldn’t be using your webcam are doing so, turn them off.
While camfecting protection may not always be straightforward, there are ways to avoid becoming its victim. As you learned in this post, it not only invades your privacy but also puts you in greater danger, such as data and identity theft. It gets worse for businesses that have more than one computer in use at all times.