Leaving webcams open means that hackers can break into them and watch everything that users are doing, security experts have claimed. The importance of that was revealed earlier this year when pictures showed that Mark Zuckerberg had covered the webcam on his MacBook Pro.
Now those warnings have been backed by FBI director James Comey, who says that it is one of the “sensible things” that people can do.
Though the webcams on laptops might be useful, they’re also one of the most valuable things a hacker can get access to. Once they do so, they can easily watch and record things that go on around them – and that information can be used later for blackmail, breaking into other security systems, or worse.
Previous leaks have suggested that governments including the US have likely tapped into webcams as a way of gathering information on citizens.
Mr Comey said that all government offices cover up the cameras and that normal citizens should be doing the same.
“There’s some sensible things you should be doing, and that’s one of them,” Comey said regarding webcam covers. “You go into any government office and we all have the little camera things that sit on top of the screen. They all have a little lid that closes down on them. You do that so that people who don’t have authority don’t look at you. I think that’s a good thing.”
Web security company Hide My Ass! recently announced that it had started making special gadgets to sit over the top of people’s webcams, in case hackers broke in. Those little bits of plastic also feature a lens that means people can slot in an image and have it show to anyone who broke in.
Others exist for laptops, desktop computers and iPhones, too.