What is camfecting and how can we defend ourselves? This term signifies the process by which the camfecter spies on everything in the field of vision of another person’s webcam, while operating it without the owner’s permission, usually after having infected their PC with a virus which grants access to the device.
In order to gain entry into a digital camera, the hacker usually sends his victim an apparently innocuous app, which contains a Trojan. After this has been automatically installed, the camfecter can connect to the device in complete freedom and make videos or take photos, as he acquires total control of the webcam.
However, the camfecting process is not exclusive to hackers, as entering digital cameras owned by private users is now becoming easier for everyone. Let us consider the example of Shodan: the well-known search engine which finds whatever is connected to the Internet of Things; by simply making a payment upon registration anyone can access a large number of webcams.
These cameras may be pointed anywhere, whether it be public areas, workplaces or even home environments. This means that if a person registers with that particular search engine, they have the opportunity to view what is happening in the street, but also in many offices and homes, where cameras are present.
While cybercrime is making considerable advances, user security is also developing and improving all the time. Some people protect themselves against camfecting by placing sticky tape over the webcams on their devices, but there are already some solutions available which guarantee greater protection.
In order to check whether a webcam is being controlled by strangers, you must check if, among the programmes connected with it, there is any malevolent software. Even without in-depth IT knowledge, this is possible by downloading the free program Process Explorer; a program which is able to identify all the active processes on a PC at any given time.
After completing the download, you must select the name of the webcam on your PC. To do this, it is sufficient to click on ‘Find in Windows’ and type ‘Device management’. Then you must go into ‘Acquisition and Image Devices’ and select the webcam from the drop-down menu. Click on ‘Details’ and insert the name of the device’s camera below the option ‘Value’.
At this point you must open the Process Manager, insert the command Ctrl+F, paste the name of the webcam into the search bar which appears on the screen and click on the option ‘Search’. In just a few seconds you will be able to see which programs are using the webcam and, if any of those seem suspect, they can be removed with the use of an anti-spyware program.
Other alternative solutions include programs which enable you to control the operation of the webcam better. For Windows users the program Who Stalks my Camera is available while for Mac users there is Oversight; both of these provide an improved overview of webcam access requests received by the PC and give warning of any illicit intrusions.
As a general rule however, it must be said that no system is totally secure, so it is essential to do everything possible in order to protect our own privacy, by taking notice as soon as soon as we detect any unusual pattern of webcam operation (such as if it suddenly switches on for no reason).
Protecting yourself from camfecting is not always straightforward, but with a little bit of care and some basic background information, we can take some precautions that will grant us greater peace of mind.
Translated By Joanne Beckwith