Last week, to celebrate Instagram's rapid 500 million user growth, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg shared a rather casual picture of himself to commemorate the event.
It was all cute and cuddly until a curious thing caught social media's unforgiving eyes... his laptop, which is seen in the photo, appears to have its webcam and audio jack taped up.
Wait a minute! The CEO of the world's largest social media site, with an army of technological gurus and security experts at his disposal, is paranoid enough to cover up his webcam?
More than 500 million people now use Instagram every month -- and 300 million every day. The Instagram community has...
Although we can't be 100 percent certain that the laptop in question was indeed his, the irony was not lost on everyone. Here we have Mr. Zuckerberg, billionaire CEO, battling Facebook privacy concerns year after year, yet there he was (or his staffers, at least), employing a very low tech, DIY solution to protect his own privacy.
If someone as smart as Zuckerberg tapes over his webcam, should we, mere mortals, do it too? Funny as it seems, he's actually on to something. Webcam hacking is a real threat facing computer users every day.
According to a recent survey, more than 60 percent of computer users do not cover their webcam. Around 35 percent cover their webcam with a BandAid or PostIt Note, and around 4 percent actually use duct tape.
Still, it's concerning that many people aren't all that worried about webcam peeping. Remote hackers can use malware dubbed RAT (Remote Access Trojan), to take over your computer completely, turn on your webcam without your knowledge and maliciously spy on you. Hackers are reportedly even selling compromised webcams and archived webcam content for as low as $1. Worse yet, they could even turn off the webcam indicator light so you won't even know if it has been turned on remotely. How's that for scary, huh?
RAT malware could infect your computer via a number of ways. There is the usual "click on this link" method, distributed by email, text messaging and social media sites. With this method, hackers will try and direct you to a website where the malicious software resides and from there, it will download and install to your computer as discreetly as possible.
Another method is if someone with physical access to your computer intentionally installs RAT software without your knowledge. Remote access tools are a staple for troubleshooting and IT administrators everywhere, but if someone secretly installs these tools without your consent, then there might be more sinister ends at play.
So how could we protect ourselves from RAT? As always, be wary of any web links that you encounter, even from trusted sources. Scrutinize links you receive very carefully and if you click through, never let websites trick you into installing software, usually disguised as "updates" or "video players." Also, never open sketchy email attachments from anyone, even contacts that you trust.
Employing these security practices could mean that you won't have to follow Mark Zuckerberg's lead and you won't have to start taping your webcams and microphones from now on.