Do you have a piece of tape over your webcam? Well, the director of the FBI thinks that you should.
FBI Chief James Comey reiterated why it’s so important when he spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies conference yesterday. It’s relatively easy for a hacker to, theoretically, gain remote access to your computer’s webcam, and use it to spy on you without your permission — or even without you noticing.
Is it all likely if you’re not a super-spy or celebrity? Maybe not, but for most of us, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Yesterday, Comey equated putting a piece of tape over your webcam to locking your doors and setting up your alarm system, The Entrepreneur reported.
“There’s some sensible things you should be doing and that’s one of them,” Comey said during the conference. “You go into any government office and we all have the little camera things that sit on top of the screen. They all have a little lid that closes down on them. You do that so that people who don’t have authority don’t look at you. I think that’s a good thing.”
When Comey admitted to putting tape over his webcam earlier this year, he was reportedly mocked for it. And Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made internet headlines when he appeared in a picture with tape covering his webcam. Zuckerberg also reportedly uses tape to cover his computer microphone as well, according to ARS Technica.
While this tape trick might seem fueled more by paranoia than caution, it’s still probably a smart idea. In 2014, a website surfaced that showed live feeds from random people’s baby monitors, security cameras and webcams. And in April, a hacker caused a stir when he live streamed webcam footage from unsuspecting users on YouTube. And let’s not forget what happened to Miss Teen USA 2013 Cassidy Wolf. In that instance, a hacker sent intimate photos to Wolf that were taken via her webcam, according to Engadget.
So the next time you think about your online privacy — something as simple as a piece of tape could potentially play a huge role in keeping you and your data safe.