FBI chief suggests you tape over your webcam


People might call you paranoid if you encrypt your smartphone, or boast an endless array of 12+ character passwords, but new comments made by the FBI chief James Comey’s webcam comments will make you feel a little more normal.

Comey, while speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, called taping over your laptop’s webcam — to prevent potential prying eyes from snooping — one of the “sensible things” human beings should be doing, akin to locking your house, or patting your wallet before disembarking the plane.

“You go into any government office and we all have the little camera things that sit on top of the screen”, he explains, according to The Hill.

“You do that so people who don’t have authority don’t look at you. I think it’s a good thing.”

Comey suggests that taping your webcam is about as “sensible” as locking your home

While it makes sense for the head of a world intelligence bureau to treat online security as a pillar of daily life, the statement’s obviously tinged with shades of irony.

The FBI and Apple earlier this year we’re locked in a battle over an iPhone 5C‘s data belonging to one of the Boston bombers. Apple failed to comply with the bureau’s requests to build a backdoor to gain access to the phone’s information.

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It’s not just Comey either. Earlier this year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed in an Instagram snap that he too covers his laptop’s webcam and microphone.

But while these are two public figures, seemingly any webcam is at risk. Last year, a 27-year-old Canadian woman had snaps of herself and her boyfriend shot while they were watching Netflix. And that’s just one of many stories popping up in the news this decade.

How can you tell if your webcam has been hacked?

If your laptop’s webcam indicator light flashes, or pops on for no reason, it’s a good indicator that something’s not quite right. Of course, you could take things a step further on Windows by disabling the webcam in device manager, and re-enabling it should you need it.

But you know what, taping over your webcam is probably the easiest thing to do.

Andy Walker, former editor


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