The FBI has also publicly acknowledged its ability to employ such techniques when investigating criminal activity: Last year, a federal magistrate rejected the agency’s request to secretly monitor a suspected criminal through his webcam.
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Some students in the Lower Merion School District reported seeing the indicator light turn on with no explanation.
And earlier this year, a 19-year-old man used covertly recorded webcam images of several women—including Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf—as part of an extortion effort, threatening to post nude images if his demands were not met.
Wolf claims she never saw the indicator light when the images were being taken.
But is it any less disturbing if the indicator light With the right tools, in other words, almost anyone—from foreign governments to the creepy teenager down the street—could be recording you while you sit at your computer.
All of this raises the question: Why don’t we just cover our webcams whenever they aren’t in use?
Is this the digital equivalent of leaving the front door unlocked, or forgetting to check the deadbolt at night?
The likelihood that burglars will sneak in is relatively low, but the simple click of a lock can make it much less likely.
highlighted an unnerving study published at Johns Hopkins University which found that a laptop webcam can function in relative secrecy—a slightly subtler Eye of Sauron.
Matthew Brocker and Stephen Checkoway’s paper, regrettably (though inevitably) titled “i See You: Disabling the Mac Book Webcam Indicator LED,” exposes the flaw in many Apple laptops built before 2008.