Cover up Your Laptop Cameras! Somebody Is Watching!

No, not really. But paranoia is certainly alive and well.

I’m writing this very important piece after having been exposed to a ridiculous marketing article on a new HP laptop which focuses on an amazing feature…A BUILT-IN CAMERA COVER! WOW! What an astounding feat of laptop engineering.

Ever since Mark Zuckerberg posted an image with his webcam in the background covered up by a piece of tape, everybody started thinking that it was necessary to do the same. What people don’t factor in is the rationality to do so. As such a high net-worth and public figure Mr. Zuckerberg is, it would be quite reasonable for him to think that a simple look at his character in the privacy of his own home is worth something… regardless of what is going on in the video. This is probably true. It would be, however, unreasonable to think this is something a criminal would risk performing on an average person.

Image above: Why are you covering a detachable USB camera when all you have to do is unplug it?

The fact of the matter is that targeting and compromising a network or computer maliciously is a crime. If an individual is going to be strategically targeted for blackmail, they are going to make sure the video will have some sort of value and that the victim will suffer if the video is broadcast over the internet.

If you happen to be one of the people with no damageable public internet presence and who conducts themselves normally in their home (about 99.9% of people), then you really don’t have anything to worry about regarding your camera being controlled. Not that you are encouraging the hack, but if you recognize the fact that there is no logical reason for you to be publicly targeted, then who cares? It’s not going to happen.

The underlying problem with covering up your webcam isn’t because it’s unreasonable or folly (It is though), but because this behavior gives you an illogical sense of protection. What’s happening is that you are being distracted from the root of the issue, which is ‘network security.’ The problem isn’t your webcam, it’s your bank account. Your public profiles, e-mail, network storage with access to private documents, pictures, and various data. THIS would be the real security breach… not to simply look at your face. That is just silly.

Even more silly? A bedazzled, sticky camera cover. Apparently you can take paranoia and turn it into a profitable business.

To have a solid firewall, encryption, and password for your network is one thing, but to keep up on firmware/software updates for your devices and programs, respectively, is another thing entirely. It’s also extremely important to fully participate in 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication) on all of your important online profiles. The added level of security is necessary when passwords are so easily deduced or hacked.

If you are going to do anything to digitally protect yourself and your finances, please do so not by taping up your webcam, but by performing these actionable items:

1. Don’t just give your wireless SSID a strong password, but change the login credentials of your router, cable modem, or wireless device as well. These devices are at the forefront of your network. Access to them is really at the foundation of everything.

2. Always check on firmware updates for your network devices as well. Make it a habit to periodically ensure you are fully updated on network equipment as well as your computer’s operating system, BIOS, and web-browsers.

3. Make sure you are using the best wireless encryption type: WPA2-AES. The other types are outdated and now flawed. Here is a great article on explaining their faults and why wireless encryption and strong passwords are so essential -

4. If possible, activate any additional firewall settings on your router. Your router monitors traffic by default, but it’s always good to look at firewall settings. Here are some articles describing hardware and software firewalls - and

5. Have some form of Anti-virus installed at your endpoints. Even if it’s your home computer, you’ll at least need some freeware like “Microsoft Security Essentials” and run a full MalwareBytes scan periodically. It really all depends on how careless you are when browsing the internet, but it’s always better to be safe than hacked! Here is one of our articles on “endpoints” and the security therein.

6. Finally, and most importantly, make sure that all of your sensitive online profiles (banking profiles, e-mail, or other financially related login credentials) are engaged with 2FA. Two-factor authentication is probably the easiest security measure you can activate, and yet still the majority of people do not take advantage of this protection. Please read our article on 2FA to inform yourself of its importance.

All of that being said, what I want for you to take away from all of this is:

Nobody is hacking into your network to look at you. They are going in to transfer your finances and private data. You need to stop worrying about how your face will look on camera and start worrying about your money.

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