Webcams and PrivacyWritten on July 1, 2013 by Chris Stephens
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.
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.