Could predators be spying on you and your kids through your computer’s webcam? Authorities say criminals are now able to hack in and watch your every move — without you ever knowing it.
We all do it: We use our computer, then we get distracted with something and just walk away. You forget the computer is still on. and the criminals are counting on it. Now they can access your webcam remotely, watching your most intimate moments from the kitchen to the privacy of your own bedroom. The worst part is, you’d never even know.
“People who are victims generally have no idea that they are victims,” computer expert Jim Stickley of TraceSecurity said. “Suddenly, they’re all over the Internet.”
Stickley demonstrated how easy it is. From thousands of miles away he broke into one family’s laptop and turned on their webcam to view teen girls in their bedroom and in their dining room as the family ate dinner. “It took about three minutes” to hack into their system, Stickley said.
How’d he do it? He sent them an innocent-looking e-card with a virus embedded into the code.
“They click the little link in the card and as far as they’re concerned, they’re going to see little quacking ducks,” Stickley explained. “In reality, I’ve also loaded a Trojan (horse) on their computer during that time.”
Stickley said such families are easy targets for webcam predators — criminals like Luis Mijangos. Prosecutors say he was spying on more than 200 women through their webcams, even blackmailing some of them. He’s now serving six years in prison.
So how can you protect yourself? Number one: Leave your laptop closed when you’re not using it. You can also put a piece of tape across the webcam lens.
Secondly, don’t open any emails from people you don’t know. That includes clicking on those Facebook postings that say things like “Watch this incredible video!” Unless you trust the person posting, don’t do it. Those random links are how the hackers gain access.
The FBI says it’s impossible to know how often hackers are spying on innocent victims. But keep in mind: one guy, like Luis Mijangos, often has hundreds of women he’s watching at any time. (Sources: Jeff Rossen, Josh Davis, Robert Powell, Rossen Reports,TODAY)