Research shows wecams can be remotely activated with the light off

By Funke Oyelade,

While you would think it’s possible to know when your webcam is on due to the light that comes on, new research has revealed it is possible to be spied on through your webcam without the light coming on.

In August, Miss Teen USA, 19-year-old Cassidy Wolf, was spied on via her webcam and nude photos were taken of her. The hacker then threatened to release the photos of her publicly, we reported at the time.

Although Wolf was not the first or the last celebrity to be hacked or spied on, the case drew the interest of the FBI.

A study published on December 18 shows laptops with built in webcams can be hacked without the owner's knowledge because the light does not turn on, reported the Washington Post.

Apparently, this is a technique the FBI has been able to use for several years, stealthily activating a computer's camera without the light coming on.

The laptops tested were MacBook and iMac models before 2008. The researchers assured that other laptops with built in cameras can also be remotely activated. While laptops have built in sensors and are designed to prevent the camera light from coming on when not in use, the researchers were able to get around the feature.

In MacBooks, they were able to reprogram the chip inside the camera. Apple laptops, which have a feature to make sure the light comes on anytime pictures are being taken, were also able to be manipulated.

Researcher Charlie Miller said, “There’s no reason you can’t do it -- it’s just a lot of work and resources, but it depends on how well [Apple] secured the hardware.”

The researchers published the in-depth information on how to side step the security features of these laptops.

A video explaining and demonstrating how to do so is below.

Video courtesy of Washington Post.


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