Our security and privacy seems to be under attack lately. Especially with massive data breaches like the one at Equifax that exposed over 145 million Americans' Social Security numbers.
Incidents like the one at Equifax are out of our control. However, there are times that we mistakenly open ourselves to attack without even knowing it. If you make this mistake, cybercriminals could secretly turn your camera on and film you at any time.
How cybercriminals could secretly be filming you
We're talking about apps that you've downloaded to your smartphone. When you give an app permission to access your camera, it can secretly take photos and videos of you and you won't even know it's happening.
Security researcher Felix Krause blogged about the proof-of-concept privacy issue earlier this week. Here's a list Krause wrote of things apps can do once you've granted it access to your camera:
- Access both the front and rear-facing cameras
- Record you at any time the app is running in the foreground
- Take pictures and videos without notifying you
- Upload the pictures/videos it takes immediately
- Run real-time face recognition to detect facial features or expressions
Apps can do all of this with no indication whatsoever. Your phone could be recording your surroundings with no LEDs, no lights lit up, or any other type of notification.
How to protect yourself
Once you have given an app access to your camera, there aren't many options to stop it from taking photos or videos. Here are a couple suggestions:
Cover your cameras
If you cover the camera lenses on your phone, even if an app attempts to take pictures it won't be successful. There are many camera cover options for purchase online. For example, here's one for sale on Amazon for under $8 and it works for Apple and Android gadgets, including smartphones and tablets.
Buy from Amazon
If you don't want to spend the money, you can use something more primitive to cover your cameras like a simple sticky note.
Remove app permissions
If you don't remember whether you gave an app permission to access your camera, there's a way to find out. You can also revoke camera access for each app. Here's how:
For Apple iPhone:
Open Settings >> Privacy >> Camera. Here you will see a list of apps that have permission to access your camera. To revoke the permission, slide the toggle left next to the app you want to take camera access away from.
For Android phones:
You need to check each app individually. Begin by opening Settings >> Apps >> Select an app >> tap Permissions >> slide the toggle to the left next to Camera. Repeat this process for every app on your gadget.
Speaking of privacy, here's how to keep strangers off your Wi-Fi network and out of your files
Is your Wi-Fi network secure against unauthorized access? Not only can it slow your internet connection down, it can also be used for illegal activities and even worse, people can gain access to your files! Your security is a priority and I'll show you how you can keep strangers out.