Should You Cover Your Webcam With Tape? FBI Director Says Yes

If you’re not covering your webcam with a piece of tape when not in use already, it’s probably a good time to start.

Yes, your friend obsessed with cyber security who’s been blathering for years about cyber criminals hacking into your webcam to spy on you might have been right all along, according to FBI Director James Comey. After originally claiming that people shouldn’t cover their webcam as it hinders national security, James Comey has now flipped his tune and admitted he throws a piece of tape over his webcam. He said in an interview with US Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General John Carlin that all citizens should be doing the same to protect their privacy.

“I think people just need to continue to be sensible in their own sort of security hygiene and asking good questions, and not assuming that somebody else has thought about this or someone else has taken care of their security,” Comey told the audience. Comey isn’t the only big shot who’s resorted to the rudimentary security precaution. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s computer was spotted with a piece of tape over the webcam and microphone in a June photo.

When Comey first admitted the practice to students at Kenyon College after seeing others do it, he took some ribbing for this crude security efforts on Twitter.


Twitter jokes aside, cyber crime headlines are no laughing matter. The news has been filled lately with headlines about accusations against Russia supposedly trying to hack U.S. government computers to swing the presidential election. For the most part though, cyber crime typically happens on a smaller scale.

Cassidy Wolf, the 2013 winner of the Miss Teen USA pageant became a victim of cyber crime when Jared James Abrahams, a classmate, used a program to hack into her webcam and take photos of her. She eventually learned of the invasion of privacy when he got into her social media accounts and tried to extort money from her.”It was traumatizing,” Wolf told CNN.”It’s your bedroom. That’s your most private, intimate space and that’s where you should feel the most safe.” An investigation revealed he had done this to a dozen other women. Abrahams was eventually sentenced to 18 months in jail.

What’s especially disturbing is how easy it has become for hackers to install this spyware. You’ve probably heard the term “phishing” as it’s the most common form of attack – a spyware gets installed when the victim clicks a link that is usually sent in an email. The program then buries itself in the computer and the webcam becomes corrupted and able to be controlled remotely by the hacker.


The hacking abilities of cyber criminals have become incredibly advanced over the years. In 2014, the FBI arrested scores of hackers in several countries for using a program called Blackshades. The hacking program gave the criminals the ability to record virtually every action the computer was used for, recording keystrokes to steal passwords and give the hackers access to the victim’s files without any knowledge. It’s estimated that more than half a million computers across the world were infected with that program.

If you think you may be the victim of hacking, there are a number of signs to look out for. In the meantime, it’s probably a good idea to throw a Band-aid or a Post-it note over that webcam you’re not using. Because if it has a camera and online access, somebody probably wants to use it for financial gain or cheap thrills.

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