Have you ever seen an ad on your computer about a product that you were just talking about with a coworker? An advertisement for the same exact brand of car that you were discussing pops-up and you think, that's odd.
It's not a coincidence. There have been reports about certain apps using your gadget's microphone to listen to conversations that are taking place in the area. These apps then use information collected to provide you with targeted ads.
However, advertisers are not the only ones interested in what you are saying and doing. Hackers are also finding that the cameras and microphones on your devices can provide them with valuable information.
That's why you need to know how to secure your microphone and webcam from hackers.
How to secure your microphone
Hacked cameras are fairly easy to spot since many have a light that turns on whenever it's in use. But microphones are much more stealthy. It's not easy to tell when your microphone is being used.
The best way to secure your gadget's microphone is to make it non-functional when you're not using it. This is a really easy process, although it will cost a few dollars to complete.
Simply plug a pair of earbuds that have a microphone included in your gadget's 3.5mm audio jack. You must then cut the earbuds off, as well as the mic.
I know, I know, this sounds crazy. You've just ruined a pair of earbuds. Trust me, it's worth it.
Doing this will keep hackers from listening into your conversations. It works because plugging earbuds that have a built-in mic into your gadget changes the default audio input from the gadget's internal microphone to the external one.
Even after you cut the earbuds off, the computer still uses the external mic as the default. Since the mic is no longer attached, no sound can be collected by the gadget.
How to secure your webcam
Webcams are great for video chatting with distant friends or watching your house while you're away on vacation. Unfortunately, they're great for hackers too.
Hackers can slip data and finance-stealing viruses onto your computer. Why not a virus that can take control of your webcam?
Even scarier, some webcams don't require any hacking! They broadcast an unsecured signal that anyone can find.
The easiest way to stop people from watching you on your webcam is to cover it with a piece of tape, or sticky-note. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was even spotted using this technique last year.
However, if you don't want to pin all of your hopes of privacy on a piece of tape, there are more thorough ways of disabling webcams. Here are some ways to secure your webcam:
Adjust Windows 10 setting
For a simple way of securing a webcam, you can adjust settings in Windows 10. You can choose which apps are able to access the webcam or even block them all from using it.
To make these changes, open Settings >> select Privacy >> select Camera. At the top of the page, you will see the option to let apps use my camera, toggle the slider to the left to turn camera access off for all apps.
Or you can give camera access to each app individually. You can allow access when you know you are going to use the app and turn access off when you're not using it.
Webcam protection software
It's difficult to know when you are secretly being watched. You need to protect yourself from hackers that want to snoop on your every move.
One way to stay protected is with security software. A webcam protector is an option from Norton that helps keep spy software from your computer. It is designed to protect your vulnerable audio and video ports.
Most antivirus companies offer this type of webcam protection. Go to the website of your antivirus company and do a search for webcam protection to find out what is available.
Disable your webcam
Whether you are using a Mac, Windows laptop, or a touch-screen all-in-one desktop PC, it more than likely came with an integrated, or built-in, webcam. Disabling these webcams is a pretty simple process.
Bonus tip: For an in-depth look at how hackers are watching your every move, listen to our podcast: