Viruses, malware and hackers are able to secretly access laptops’ sound and vision
Viruses, malware and hackers are able to secretly access laptops’ sound and vision tools meaning unsuspecting people can be spied on without their knowledge.
A widespread problem, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg was snapped with tape covering his webcam and mic, adding to fears they can be easily exploited.
One simple method people often use to ensure privacy is sticking paper or tape over their welcome, meaning even if someone hacks into it they cannot see what the owner is up to.
But microphones are harder to conceal, and audio also contains a wealth of information which can be exploited by cyber criminals.
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While lights sometimes come on when the webcam is in use, alerting users, some programmes are able to access the cams undetected by piggybacking in off other site such as Skype and FaceTime.
In a bid to ensure people are aware every time there is an attempt to hijack their equipment, new software has been developed called Oversight.
Patrick Wardle, former National Security Agency (NSA) worker, created the program which will send the owner a notification if anyone tries to access either the webcam or mic – and says who is doing it.
Oversight will prompt a notification if the tools are attempted to be accessed
Once downloaded, Oversight will prompt a notification if the tools are attempted to be accessed, which can either be allowed or blocked.
And Apple’s MacBook and iMac range, once thought to be impenetrable, have been the victim of multiple forms of malware attack.
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But not just laptops and computers, a range of technological gadgets are either susceptible to be hacked or can be used as a spying tool.
Default settings were not privacy preserving
Recent research from the University of Amsterdam (UVA) found more stringent rules needed to be put in place to stop Smart TVs snooping on its owners.
A study found the web-connected TVs tracked users’ online and offline behaviour, social habits and viewing preferences.
The report found the devices were sending viewing information back to manufacturers
The report found the devices were sending viewing information back to manufacturers, eavesdropping on personal conversations
Kristina Irion, senior researcher at the UvA's Institute for Information Law, said: “Our analysis shows how users' agency is being significantly reduced because information duties haven't been complied with and how default settings were not privacy preserving.”
Audio also contains a wealth of information which can be exploited by cyber criminals
Private information was being passed to third parties without the owner’s knowledge, they added.
They recommended European policy makers adopt stricter laws.