Privacy SOS

“Teenage boys” hacking into personal webcams nationwide — but what about the government?

A story GQ magazine broke last month and we briefly covered here has made it onto the television news in Chicago. Blogger Katie Notopoulos spoke to Chicago's Fox news affiliate about a recent uptick in (teenage boys?) hacking into personal webcams, enabling them to watch people in their homes, undetected.

But importantly, neither the GQ story nor the story above address the problem of governments hacking into your computer to listen to and watch you. Thanks in part to the Wall Street Journal's work on surveillance equipment, we know that governments  can do so using sophisticated hacking tools — even if you don't have one of the external cameras discussed in the news segment on Fox.

Companies like FinFly boast that their malware can be surreptitiously installed via fake iTunes and Adobe updates. After that, whoever controls the software on the other end (whether it is police or federal agents) has access to your entire computer, including your keystrokes, screen activity, hard drive, camera and microphone.

So please, cover your webcam when you aren't using it. (A cut-up post-it note works like a charm.) It's really the least you can do to protect yourself against government spooks and teenaged creeps alike.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.