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Chris Stephens (Vice President - Operations)

Webcams and Privacy

Written on July 1, 2013 by Chris Stephens


Hello there. It's nice to see you again.


You are staring at the screen, right now, reading this ultra interesting blog post.

Did you know that someone could be staring back?

There is no doubt that more and more of our customers are turning to laptops for their computing needs. Many people take issue with the integrated webcam and microphone that is on nearly every commercially produced laptop.  We get several requests a month to physically remove the cameras and microphones from our laptop orders.

Why remove the webcam and microphone?

Well, let me give you the worst case scenario: strangers can access the feed from your camera and microphone, even turning them on when you are not aware.  This practice, called 'ratting', is well documented on places like YouTube where videos are posted of people being secretly recorded on their own computer. These videos are frequently banned by YouTube as a violation of their Terms of Service, but they are posted with such frequency that finding a 'ratting' video is a pretty simple search.

Some may scoff and point out that access like this requires the user to grant root or administrator access to the program 'ratters' use. But Trojan infections of computers of all types are very frequent. In fact I recently had to clear out a root kit on a family member's computer that was installed via a trojan, which anti-viruses have an easier time detecting AFTER install.

We can be as cautious as possible but remember this:

We have to be right EVERY time but the hacker/cracker/virus/trojan has to be right only ONCE.

How do I remove the webcam? Well there are a number of techniques out there for mitigating the risk of webcams and microphones. Can I steer you clear of one popularly proposed solution?

Do not take a drill motor and drill out the webcam from the bezel. That is a horrible idea.

Not recommeded for use with your next Puget System.

A better idea? Buy your next laptop from Puget Systems. We can do a complete microphone and webcam removal, done the right way, by our experienced technicians. I have posted some links on the right side of this article to our most popular line of laptops. Check them out, save a quote and let our Puget sales staff help you make a great choice for your next computer.


Tags: webcam, microphone, removal, laptop

What about having a hard switch to turn them on/off?

Posted on 2013-07-01 18:23:29

Not at all a fan of the "fear sells" mentality, but playing along since you guys seem to be otherwise fairly cool cats -- I'd be much more impressed if you offered a physical switch, like egybs suggested. Little dremel work, under a buck in parts most likely - should be a cake job and offer security and convenience.

Posted on 2013-07-02 03:17:41

uninstall the webcam/mic driver or place a piece of tape over the webcam

Posted on 2013-07-02 14:03:07

Removing the camera would take away the occasional fun we get to have at work though. Every now and then, one of the big wigs wants a huge number of people with the company to join a stupid online meeting so we can "listen" to their speech about the company. Sure enough, as we sign on, someone somewhere has a webcam on their computer that they don't know about. The cool thing is that the meeting will automatically put up their webcam presence if it detects you have one on. The "meetings" would be so boring if it weren't for the accidental appearance of for example a guy sitting at home without a shirt who is picking his nose while not having any idea the rest of the company is watching him.

Posted on 2013-08-02 14:58:54

well done.

Posted on 2013-09-03 09:09:40
Smile it is almost Friday!

I like the idea, and might bring my macbook to you. For now silver paint has fixed the camera and microphone issues. There is no video, and the microphone can only pick up muffled sound at best.

Posted on 2015-08-17 10:34:22
Michael Kiser

my child has a touch screen toshiba laptop. i want to know if i can take a dremel tool and scar up the screen and blurr the camera. i have uninstalled the camrea before only to have him re install it with updates. i have problems with cam sights that he is getting on and people seeing him. will a dremel ruin the whole computer if i blurr out the tiny space in front of the cam?

Posted on 2017-02-02 18:37:31