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July 2016

Is my webcam secretly recording me?

in Hack by
Secret recordings of RAT victims

More people are beginning to cover their webcams on their computer devices. Stickers, magnets and attachable metals are sold by new businesses as so-called webcam covers. There is the C slide, or my favorite, Kickstarter’s Nope.

While the webcam cover provides the guarantee of privacy from secret recordings, the majority does not have any guarantees. They rely on the idea that the webcam is turned off when it’s not being used, and turned on when they are using it.

If you’re a fan of Mr. Robot, you probably remember that scene in the first season where Angela’s boyfriend receives a Compact Disk from a musician promoting his mixtape on the streets.


Upon running the disk at home, he realizes that it doesn’t work.

Scene 2

But the disk had secretly installed malware, which allows the musician, who is in fact a hacker, to secretly watch the computer’s webcam.

Scene 3

But does it also work like this in real life or is just Hollywood fantasy? Unfortunately, the truth is even worse. Hackers don’t even need a Compact Disk to access your computer.

Cyber-security experts don’t deny the fact that is fairly simple to learn how to activate a laptop’s webcam remotely.

They can do so via RAT, also known as a Remote Access Tool. It accesses your computer remotely after you’ve allowed its software to be installed your computer. Usually disguised as a harmless file, it secretly remains on your computer and can, from there, access your webcam, and pretty much everything else.

There are extensive tutorials on how to get started with RATS, one being a bestseller eBook on a hack forum.

“But what about that light that turns on when the webcam is on? Wouldn’t I be able to tell when my webcam is recording?

No, this light can be disabled and hackers can secretly record you without this burning light.

Throughout the last two decades, there have been many cases of secret webcam recordings.

In 2o07, a man from Ohio was arrested for hacking into webcams and recording minors. He was sentenced to 25 years in jail.

In 2011, a group called Chaos Computer Club discovered that German police used spyware to use the webcams and microphones on people’s’ computer devices.

In 2014, 97 people have already been arrested for spying through cameras.

There is an entire community of men that spy on women. You can read a hacker’s motive for doing this here.

There is even a term circulating in these communities, which is ‘Webcam slaves’. This refers to countless women who are secretly being recorded because they were unfortunate enough to have download a RAT on their computer.

RAT slaves
Screenshot made by a RAT hacker.

They’re essentially the hacker’s playtoy. There have been instances where these girls were recorded during private moments, and their videos sold onto others. Some RAT hackers scare their victims by opening gruesome websites in their browsers and watching their reactions

There are even public discussions among RAT hackers about what they should do with their slaves.

To minimize the risk of having RATs on your computer, there are three requirements:
1) Don’t click on any download links on websites that are untrustworthy.
2) Always have anti-virus running on your computer.
3) Disable remote access to your computer in your settings.

So the answer to the question: “Am I being secretly recorded?” becomes clear.

Yes, it’s possible. If it isn’t the government or your local police that’s using your webcam as surveillance, it’s possible that a hacker accessed your computer. Be safe and use a webcam cover.

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