Process and control today | Signs that the camera and microphone are hacked
Microphone and camera hacking is when an attacker gains remote access to a device’s camera and microphone – usually with the intention of recording or spying on the device user.
Historically called “camfecting”, it is individuals who have been seen as the main victims of webcam hacks. However, businesses are also at significant risk from camera and microphone hacking. Smartphones, laptops, PCs and CCTV systems are all vulnerable, and a successful breach can be devastating. Through camera and microphone access, hackers can record meetings, learn information about your business and clients, or even gain deeper access to your devices and search for sensitive data that can be used in a ransomware.
Anyone who has ever lost their device’s webcam knows that camera and microphone hacking is a risk. But what are the signs that a hack has taken place?
Anthony Green, CTO of cybersecurity company FoxTech, discusses how to detect a camera or microphone breach.
“The IBM Security ‘Cost of a Data Breach Report’ found that it takes an average of 207 days from the time a hacker breaches a system to the victim becoming aware of the attack. With video conferencing cemented as a lasting legacy of the pandemic, and a boom in employees using potentially insecure personal devices for business tasks, it’s more critical than ever that organizations can spot the signs of a camera and microphone hack so they can act quickly get the attacker out of the system before it’s too late.”
FoxTech provides their guide to spotting the clues that your camera and microphone have been hacked.
The webcam indicator light is on – but you are not using the camera
On a laptop or desktop computer, most webcams will have an LED indicator light that turns on when the webcam is in use—for example, when you’re in a video conference or meeting. If this light appears when you are not using the webcam, it may be cause for concern. Also, keep an eye on your security camera’s LEDs – rapid blinking is usually an indication that someone is trying to connect to your camera. If you are not the one trying to connect, have your internal security team, or a third-party cybersecurity consulting firm, investigate.
The webcam light turns on when you start the browser
If your webcam light is activated every time you start the browser, this is clear evidence that an attacker has gained access to your webcam and microphone through a malicious browser extension. To find out which extension is the culprit, restart your computer and disable the browser extensions one by one – keep an eye on the indicator light.
You may hear strange background noises
If you can hear unusual sounds in the background of your business calls, or through your CCTV cameras, this is another sign that your camera has been hacked. Sometimes hackers deliberately make themselves known through the camera’s two-way communication function. Listen for everything from voices trying to spark conversations to smaller sounds like a small beep.
Increased network traffic or data usage
For an attacker to access your device’s webcam or microphone, or your CCTV camera, they must send the video and audio files through the router. Most routers and gateways will monitor data traffic, and some will show when the traffic came through. If there are large spikes in traffic at times when you know you haven’t gained access to your camera, then that’s an indication that intruders may have gained access.
You notice unusual application settings
Malware can change device settings to make it easier for the intruder to gain access. On smartphones, PCs and Macs, hackers will activate the camera and microphone on an unexpected application (or on an app they installed themselves). Check your device for new apps that you don’t remember installing and check your app permission settings. Make sure camera and microphone access is only allowed on apps where it’s strictly necessary.
Checking an Android phone
Settings > Apps > Advanced > App permissions > Camera (or microphone) > Use the switch next to each app to revoke the permission.
Checking an iPhone
Settings > Privacy > Camera (or Microphone) > Use the switches next to each app to revoke permission.
Checking a PC
Settings > Privacy > Camera (or Microphone) > Use the switches next to each to revoke permission.
Checking a Mac
Settings > Security & privacy > Privacy > Camera (or microphone) > Uncheck the box next to each app to revoke permission.
So what can businesses do to protect themselves against camera and microphone hacking?
“Revoking unnecessary app permissions and regularly reviewing them is a great first step in protecting your business. In the cybersecurity industry, devices are known as “endpoints”. According to a recent study by the Ponemon Institute, 68% of organizations have experienced one or more endpoint attacks that have compromised their data and/or their IT infrastructure. Making it difficult for attackers to access your system through insecure endpoints is important, so improving the security of your devices will improve the security of your entire organization.”
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