The other day, a laptop crossed my desk that belongs to a family with three beautiful daughters. Two of them have done extensive modeling even. I’ve worked on this computer a few times before. They carelessly tend to let anyone who walks into their home use this computer unsupervised. The viruses tend to run rampant because of extensive Facebook use and using Limewire in the past.
Digging into the computer, I noticed that it had an infection of “ms removal tool”. This is a simple scareware scam. Running the latest update of Malwarebytes from safe mode blows out this one fairly swiftly. I figured that was it but I decided to dig a little deeper just in case. What I found wasn’t a virus but something far more sinister…
Someone somewhere along the line had installed “Webcam Spy Pro” on this laptop. The intention of this “tool” is to allow someone to be able to remotely view your webcam from anywhere else in the world through a web browser. This is one of the creepiest things I’ve personally encountered while fixing someone’s laptop. I’m not sure if the perpetrator ever got the thing working but nevertheless, the intentions were there and the software does exist.
Although I believe the perp in this case was someone with physical access to the computer, it’s completely possibly to remotely exploit a computer to install a tool such as this. One of the top security testing tools, Metasploit, has this built right into it in fact and doesn’t even need to be installed on the remote computer so you may never know anyone was even in there.
One thing I’m curious about is whether the webcam activity light is hardwired to the webcam’s power source or if it’s software-controlled via the driver. If it’s the latter, I’m sure I don’t need to go into the implications of being able to turn on someone’s webcam without the indicator light going off.
In any event, you can prevent yourself from this sort of intrusion entirely by putting a piece of scotch tape over your camera. Some laptops use the camera as an ambient light sensor; the scotch tape won’t impact this but it will obfuscate the picture to the point where an attacker would only see a blur. Try out an app that will view the camera just to make sure it works the way you want.
As far as sound goes, one trick I’ve used is plugging in an unused 1/8″ to 1/4 ” adapter into the microphone plug. Most laptops will switch off the internal mic when you do this.
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