Who doesn’t applaud Apple for equipping every iMac and MacBook with a built-in camera? Your iPhone and iPad? They have two cameras; one on each side. Those cameras are perfect for FaceTime, Skype, as well as near professional wannabe photography. What’s not to like?
If it’s all good then why does Facebook honcho and tech genius Mark Zuckerberg cover the camera on his notebook? Why does the Director of the F.B.I. say every notebook or PC camera should be covered? Is there something going on that we poor computer and smartphone mortals don’t know about? Yes. You’re being watched.
Hacking. Is. Everywhere.
Think of what’s going on around the world. Government agencies have their computer systems under daily attack from hackers. Ditto for corporate servers, education and hospital servers, even banks get no mercy from those who mercilessly attack their computer system to find a vulnerability and create an exploit.
What about your Mac? If it’s connected to the internet– ethernet or Wi-Fi– then it’s already under constant assault. Macs may not be as easy to penetrate as Windows PCs of yesteryear, but sophisticated phishing attempts yield a bounty and sometimes that includes your Mac’s camera. Thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden, we know the government snoops on its own people, the NSA has a way of switching on your Mac’s camera without you knowing it.
There’s even a new malware which piggybacks your FaceTime or Skype video calls, and when you connect to someone it begins recording the call so you won’t be able to detect the malware because the camera record light is already on. There’s a new tool available for Mac users to thwart such piggyback attempts. It’s called OverSight and it pops up a window warning that tells you that the Mac’s camera has become active, which application made it active, and gives you the option to Allow or Block.
If you’re a Mac user who is a bit paranoid about who might be using your Mac’s built-in camera to watch what you’re doing without you knowing about the surveillance, OverSight seems like a good idea and it’s free to use.
The fear of being spied on while using your Mac– or iPhone and iPad– has spawned a common sense protection industry. Here’s an example. It’s call camJAMR, a simple, durable, and save way to cover your Mac, iPhone, iPad camera (works on Windows PCs and Android devices, too; including any so-called Smart TVs with built-in cameras).
What you get is a pack of covers– about the size of a business card– which can be stuck on or over the camera– Mac, iPhone, iPad– to prevent anyone hacking into your device, or a wayward app you’ve already installed, from using the camera to spy on you. Even if they gain access to the camera, all they get is the backside of the sticker and that’s pretty dark.
The stickers have a little handle which makes them easy to apply, and easy to remove when you’re ready to use the camera for a FaceTime or Skype call; Mac, iPhone, iPad.
Is this level of paranoia worth massaging? Yes. After all, only the paranoid survive. And if everyone is out to get you, then paranoia is a good attitude to have.