tech tips for writers

Tech Tips for Writers #170: Cover Your Webcam!

tech tips for writers logoTech Tips for Writers is an occasional post on overcoming Tech Dread. I’ll cover issues that friends, both real-time and virtual, have shared. Feel free to post a comment about a question you have. I’ll cover it in a future Tip.

This week, I’m passing on a tip from my security-conscious daughter:

I used to do this and forgot about it. She came for a visit and slapped a post-it note over my webcam.

And she’s right! Webcams and mics are too easy to hack, been done often. Why risk it? When I want to use the webcam (which isn’t that often), I take the post-it off.

I’m not the only one. In questions during a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, former FBI Director Comey revealed that cam-covering is commonplace at the FBI and other government offices:

“If you go into any government office, we all have our 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 people who do not have authority don’t look at you. I think that’s a good thing.”

One more person who’s security conscious is that poster-boy for social media: Mark Zuckerberg. In a photo he tweeted out, he was caught doing just that. See what the geek experts noticed about this photo (one is that Mark covers his webcam as a matter of policy):

It’s old science that an image of your keyboard can be caught in the reflection of your glasses and transmitted to your webcam.

You might wonder why anyone would be interested in what shows up on your webcam. The answer is simple: Hackers use captured footage or audio for blackmail.

Another tip: Close your laptop when not in use. Then, the camera and mic can’t be compromised.

More security tips:

Tech Tip for Writers #75: What’s My IP Address

7 Tips to Avoid Email Phishing

End of Year Tech for Writers: 13 Ways to Update Your Online Presence

Jacqui Murray is the webmaster for WordDreams, her blog about all things writing. She is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the upcoming Born in a Treacherous Time. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for Ask a Tech Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. 


91 thoughts on “Tech Tips for Writers #170: Cover Your Webcam!

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  7. Jacqui, I suddenly feel very wary!! 😀😀 I remember reading about this a few years ago and then covered up my the webcam for my and my son’s computer…since then I’ve go las again. It is frightening how easy it seems to be to access computers and like many I tend to not want to think about it. Okay, covering up again! Thank you so much for this reminder and tip…what would we do without you!? Xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Gosh thanks for this. Sometimes I just think I’m being paranoid so is good to have my fears confirmed. I put a little piece of tissue over the cam on my ipad … forgot to take it off when my daughter skyped me and couldn’t work out what was wrong!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post! I just covered mine up a few days ago. That was a good point about glasses reflecting your keyboard into the web cam too. Thanks for sharing 🙋🐦

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Perfect post! I keep my camera pointed at the ceiling until I want to use it. The other night I was trying to sort out a problem on Netflix and guess what popped up on my TV screen? Yep. My ceiling. I’m my own Big Brother. One good thing is that when I examined that TV image, I noticed I need to paint this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. We’ve never been able to get the webcam to work but just in case someone in East Kanipitchuk is better at technology than I am (and everyone is better at technology than I am,) I just covered it with a Post-it note. The company should come out with a set made for the job. Another million bucks for them.

    Please tell Andrew Reynolds that he made me laugh out loud, and now I’m going to start putting make up on before I use the computer.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I keep the webcams on both my home laptop and my laptop at work covered with stickers all the time. (Last computer I had, when it went in to be serviced, the jerks tried to pull the sticker off! I’m still mad about that…) If either of them has a microphone, I don’t even know where it is…now that’s gonna eat at me. (Though I don’t think anyone could blackmail me with anything they hear over my home laptop’s microphone. It’d mostly be music, and maybe occasionally me cursing out the Internet.)

    Of course, in terms of my home laptop, it’s always off if I’m not actively using it (why waste battery power/electricity?) and I usually unplug the wireless router when *it’s* not in use, too. (Partially to save electricity, and partially because the lights annoy me.) Those aren’t security measures, as such, though; they’re just me liking to turn things on and off. 😛

    My worry, though, is that I’m thinking of giving in and switching from my flip phone to a smart phone sometime this spring (when the year of service I paid for ends), and I have no idea how easy it is or isn’t to cover the cameras on a phone. Every attempt I’ve made to fasten a sticker to the forward-facing camera on my iPad has failed miserably. (Fortunately, I leave it on airplane mode whenever I’m not actively using the Internet, so it’s less of a thing there.) I’m hoping I’ll be able to buy a case that will cover the cameras. But one that can be easily opened for the back camera so I can use the phone as a camera. The *front* camera can rot behind a permanent blockage for all eternity, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I do a lot of video conferencing with my work so my camera stays uncovered. However at work I use an external monitor connected to my laptop and keep the laptop closed. The monitor doesn’t have a camera. Also, I am terminally boring and a poor source of blackmailable material.

    but one piece of advise, wear clothes when at the computer, please, just please.

    Liked by 3 people

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