Bad guys are using a malicious software to remotely access a user’s webcam and spy on them. The malicious software is called a RAT, which stands for Remote Access Trojan. And once installed, it gives the bad guys control over your computer’s webcam.

Accessing other people’s webcams has become so common in fact that a company called Shodan provides a service that lets users search and access publicly available webcams all over the world.

It’s a disturbing reality. But here are few ways you can protect yourself.

Go old school
Simply cover your webcam! A post it note can be used to block your webcam’s view when you’re not using it, and can easily be removed when you need to use it. This company even sells webcam covers that you can easily install yourself:

Turn off the internet connection when you’re not using it
This physically removes any route for unauthorized access thus limiting your desirability as a target. Think of it from the bad guys perspective: are you going to spend your time and energy trying to break into a machine with intermittent connection, or a machine that’s connected all the time?

Change the default name and password of your router
The router is the gateway to every network connected device in your home or office. Bad guys can use the default router name (called the SSID – or service set identifier) to learn the default password that ships with the router. If you haven’t changed the default password, you’ve made it really easy for the bad guys to break in.

Keep your operating systems and applications up to date
This includes web browsers, email, and messaging clients. Those security patches and updates are essential for closing security flaws that the bad guys can use to access your webcam. And if you’ve been holding off on updating your OS, now might be a good time to make the move. A little investment in a current operating system may save you a lot of time and money (and hassle) down the road.

Install security software and keep it up to date!
Avast and CCleaner are two great security programs that I use regularly.
Get them here:

Use Monitoring Software for your Mac
If you own a Mac you can download this free tool which monitors and notifies the user whenever their webcam is being used. It even detects and notifies the user when a secondary process tries to access an existing session, preventing the bad guys from recording your video conversations. Get it here

And remember. Email is a great way for the bad guys to deliver malicious code to your computer. Don’t open any attachment until you’ve scanned the file – even if you know the person who sent the attachment. Better yet, use a service like gmail that automatically scans all attachments arriving in your inbox.