1. Computing
Andy O'Donnell

How to Secure Your Webcam in Less Than 2 Seconds

By March 25, 2011

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We've all heard scary stories about unsuspecting people opening an e-mail attachment that installs webcam spyware on their computer. A hacker then logs into their computer and watches them through their webcam. Is this stuff for real or is it just Internet urban legend. Unfortunately, this happens a lot more than you might think it would. Anti-virus software may not detect this type of software because it is technically not a virus. Anti-spyware apps might fail to spot it as well.

I've heard mixed reports that it may be possible for some webcam's activity lights to be disabled so you might not even know the camera is on and someone is watching you. If you're starting to get paranoid, please raise your hand.

So how can you make sure that no one can spy on you via your webcam? Well I have a very low-tech solution that anyone can do in a matter of seconds to give themselves some peace of mind that no one can watch them unless they want them to. Just take some black electrical tape, cut a little square and place it over the web cam lens. That's it. You're done, and no hacker can defeat this.

If you're worried about the tape's adhesive gunking up your lens, cut a little longer piece of tape and fold one end back on itself so that no sticky part touches the lens. I'm sure many of you can come up with much more creative solutions. Feel free to share them in the comments section.

Comments
March 25, 2011 at 1:33 pm
(1) just me says:

Love it. What’s better than defeating technology with something as old school as tape. I think I might use duct tape, though, just so I can add to my list of Extremely Useful Things that one can do with duct tape.

March 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm
(2) Troy says:

I prefer to use a piece of cardboard clipped on with a small paper clip right over the lens of the webcam. Why? Because I often feel like that guy in that song — and we all thought he was paranoid…

“I always feel like someone is watching me…”

March 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm
(3) Don says:

How about something even easier? A band aid?

March 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm
(4) Frank says:

How about unplugging it until you need it?

March 28, 2011 at 6:38 pm
(5) Ron says:

You don’t have to be paranoid, but it helps. I’ve been doing that for the last 3 years.

Andy, you threw me a curve. I was hoping for a “better” way of doing it. A digital switch of some sort to easily turn off the camera via macro or shortcut button.

Frank, that only works for external webcams. Mine is built into the lid of my laptop, hence the tape.

March 28, 2011 at 8:37 pm
(6) Peter says:

That’s great. Just a thought for computer manufacturers: Wouldn’t it be fine if they included a little slide door beside the web cam (assuming it is built-in) just to cover it? It would be very convenient to open it when needed.
Thanks

March 29, 2011 at 2:59 pm
(7) walter says:

Even better:

Use a YELLOW post-it, can’t fail to see it.

The black tape may have fallen off your black laptop.

March 29, 2011 at 4:32 pm
(8) Claude Gravel says:

I bought 4 years ago, in 2007,a Logitec webcam that already had an eye sliding patch cover attached to it.

This is something that one could consider when buying a new webcam

March 29, 2011 at 5:50 pm
(9) John W Page says:

Buy A Logitech Webcam comes with Privacy Shield

March 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm
(10) Mrmagoo says:

put an ad there and when the person looks he will see your ad. you can change the ad each day and feature a new customer. think of the money you could make.

April 3, 2011 at 11:53 pm
(11) sameer says:

but what about the sounds? doesn’t webcam also capture sounds?

April 5, 2011 at 3:43 am
(12) aye says:

Well.Is this a joke?
I guess there are some better ways to do it.Some of them mentioned in the comments

April 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm
(13) Sndymny says:

I simply lay a buisness card in front of mine. Work;s like a charm. Actually, I’ve been doing this since my first web cam.

December 31, 2011 at 3:09 pm
(14) Hannah says:

Ever since I got my laptop 3 years ago I have covered the webcam lens. I use a Post it Note. I take 2 stuck together (right now they are hot pink) and cut it in half (horizontally) so it’s not too long and then stick it right above the lens and then just bend the Post It in half and press hard so it stays bent. The laptop monitor isn’t obstructed and the lens is covered over perfectly and I don’t have to worry about sticky stuff getting on the lens since the Post It sticky part is above the lens stuck to my laptop frame. I have to change the Post Its maybe every 4 or 5 months since they lose their stickiness.

January 14, 2012 at 11:03 am
(15) YLWalker says:

Red Solo Cup upside down.

January 27, 2012 at 7:15 pm
(16) Dana says:

Frank, not all of us have plug-in webcams. Many laptops come with built in webcams.

May 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm
(17) Jessica says:

I use a Penny and a piece of tape to cover up mines.

June 25, 2012 at 12:01 pm
(18) Tia says:

I use happy face stickers. I thought I was just being para
noid.

August 21, 2012 at 8:51 pm
(19) njs says:

Electrical tape reduces microphone function to close to zero on an iMac, and of course covers the webcam just as well.

Next question: how to dull the sound delivered through the speakers when they’re not in use?

The next hacks of surround systems that are web-enabled might include unobtrusive noise delivered to sound like it came from a location, for example, someone else in the room, or just weird noise that creeps a person out or messes with their head, particularly if they’re sleeping, when people are vulnerable to suggestions that affect their dreams.

August 28, 2012 at 6:06 pm
(20) Max says:

Great article and a great solution! A physical barrier is the best web camera security.

I use a Webcamera blocker that I found. http://www.webcamerablocker
It looks great, doesn’t fall off or get dirty. In a professional context I think that is important. Bandaid and tape adhesive leave a residue that can leave a residue and get dirty.

September 21, 2012 at 8:26 am
(21) Perry says:

The only way to protect your privacy is by covering your webcams… Do it with style. Get yourself a camJAMR today!!

camJAMR is giving away free camJAMR’s!!

Don’t miss your chance to get one!

Visit camJAMR.com

November 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm
(22) scoop2too says:

Black electrical tape. And I disabled the webcam in Control Panel/System/Hardware. And I UNINSTALLED THE SOFTWARE THAT OPERATES THE WEBCAM. Two years ago. Bye.

January 14, 2013 at 1:16 pm
(23) poopnose says:

Lol I just put a little piece of paper taped with a bandaid.

February 13, 2013 at 4:18 pm
(24) nnb says:

Again do not forget the microphone?

February 15, 2013 at 12:57 am
(25) Victim says:

I’ve been hacked and spied on 24/7 for 9-10 months. My webcam was covered with a piece of paper folded several times and then replaced with cardboard. I’m sorry to say neither worked. I keep being told it’s not possible but I feel like I’ve been watched through the screen. My computer was in my bedroom and on all the time. Now I discover thousands of people all over the world have been watching me for the last 10 months, just for a minute I’d like people to think about the things you do in your bedroom. The hackers have let me know a month ago what they have done and I believe their main goal is to try and drive me to suicide. I am a strong person but everyday is now a struggle for me. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine something like this happening to me, my life is now a nightmare. IT HAPPENS AND IT IS LIFE DESTROYING… and like I said my webcam was covered.

March 10, 2013 at 6:17 pm
(26) jkvslbvlk says:

Did this really need to be an entire 3 paragraphs? All that was needed was “take some black electrical tape, cut a little square and place it over the web cam lens.” This is the reason why I normally try to avoid these about.com / howto.com / wikihow sites it is never ever concise, always drawn out to a full damn article, just because I assume it’s what you get paid for. Pointless.

April 21, 2013 at 11:23 pm
(27) pick up coach says:

This was a amazing report as always partner

August 16, 2013 at 4:57 am
(28) lauren says:

Or how about you just get over your paranoia and accept the fact that
yes, it may be happening, but no, you should not alter your life in any way
to accommodate these people.

Don’t let the terrorists win! Take back your webcam! ;)

October 30, 2013 at 7:05 pm
(29) annie says:

I use a piece of masking tape and then cover the entire webcam with one of my grandson’s infant socks! It looks so cute and matches the decor!

November 3, 2013 at 4:33 pm
(30) Privacy Applications says:

After having my webcam accessed and being concerned about my children using their webcam enabled tablets, I developed the SmartPro line of webcam covers. SmartPro mobile for tablets and phones and SmartPro laptop/tv. They are made thick for easy grip when removing and reapplying and are reusable. Available at privacyapplications.com

November 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm
(31) jolie says:

I never use the camera on my laptop so I’ve got a folded piece of paper taped onto it.

January 16, 2014 at 7:24 pm
(32) Cristina says:

Hi guys!

I´m worried about webcam hacking too. I found TAPATUCAM in kickstarter and I think that it, is the best solution to avoid it!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tapatucamteam/tapatucam

It´s cheaper, easy and clean!

February 6, 2014 at 8:32 pm
(33) SecDotX says:

Hi All,

We have a very inexpensive product that is reusable and non-adhesive. It is also waterproof for those that like to get in the shower and listen to some music with a waterproof case. The website is secdotx.com or phonecamerablocker.com

February 28, 2014 at 1:15 am
(34) DAB says:

I bought some of those round, colored sticky dots that are often used to label things. I got about 315 in a packet (located in the office supplies section of most any store). They fit perfectly on my laptop, mobile tablet & phone. They’re bright pink, green, orange & yellow so you can easily tell if they have fallen off. I hope this helps someone.

April 13, 2014 at 5:42 pm
(35) PICpatch says:

How about a new WEBpatch to cover up the camera lens. It is also tamper evident so if you put it on your kids computer, you can tell if they removed it without your permission.

April 15, 2014 at 9:52 am
(36) sweetie says says:

I use the little pieces from the hole puncher with a little tape it works good.

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