WOBURN, MA – October 10, 2014 — / — According to a study conducted by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International, 21 percent of users cover up their webcams because they fear cyber-spies could be monitoring them via their computers. In some countries, this figure is even higher: 40 percent of Chinese respondents play safe in this way. This is no idle concern as webcams can often become effective tools for cybercriminals.

The study found that nearly a quarter of users (24%) are completely unaware that they could be watched via a webcam. Only 44 percent of respondents are fully aware of this threat and admit that the possibility is concerning for them. It’s important to remember that hackers do not exclusively target public figures – anyone is potentially of interest.

There are different reasons for hacking webcams. First, cybercriminals can use them to steal company secrets or gain access to financial services. Sometimes careless users make this task even easier: for example, one in ten respondents admitted to writing down sensitive information such as log-in credentials and passwords on a piece of paper next to the computer. A modern webcamcan easily capture that information.

Second, fraudsters can take compromising photos of the unsuspecting victim. These could be used for blackmail, or simply for amusement – and the victim’s embarrassment. For example, in May 2014 Europol disclosed a network of developers, distributors and users of malicious programs which were also designed for webcam spying. The investigation began with the arrest of a Dutch hacker who had infected the computers of 2,000 women hoping to get intimate photos.

Against that background it is hardly surprising that 1 in 5 users opt to cover up their webcams. But the problem doesn’t just affect computers. According to the study, a considerable percentage of users (6%) cover cameras on their mobile devices too. Unfortunately, the survey did not specify whether the respondents cover up both cameras or just the camera in front of the device.

At the same time, taping over the lens is not the most effective method of protection. It will temporarily prevent visual surveillance but can neither neutralize the built-in webcam microphone nor prevent images being intercepted when users switch on their cameras themselves. Many security solutions provide protection against malicious software that can “spy” via the webcam. However this does not work if the program is not malicious by default (for example, transmits only the picture) or the attacker uses legal software for this purpose.

To ensure that users are always aware of which applications and processes “see” via the webcam and thus protect their privacy, Kaspersky Lab has developed a special Webcam Protection[1] module and integrated it into Kaspersky Internet Security – Multi-Device. The solution continuously monitors access to built-in or connected webcams and informs users about any access attempts. Users can choose whether to allow this particular program to transmit video or not. It also offers default blocking of webcam access.

About Kaspersky Lab
Kaspersky Lab is the world’s largest privately held vendor of endpoint protection solutions. The company is ranked among the world’s top four vendors of security solutions for endpoint users. Throughout its more than 17-year history Kaspersky Lab has remained an innovator in IT security and provides effective digital security solutions for large enterprises, SMBs and consumers. Kaspersky Lab, with its holding company registered in the United Kingdom, currently operates in almost 200 countries and territories across the globe, providing protection for over 300 million users worldwide. Learn more at

* The company was rated fourth in the IDC rating Worldwide Endpoint Security Revenue by Vendor, 2012. The rating was published in the IDC report “Worldwide Endpoint Security 2013–2017 Forecast and 2012 Vendor Shares (IDC #242618, August 2013). The report ranked software vendors according to earnings from sales of endpoint security solutions in 2012.

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Susan Rivera

Source: Kaspersky

[1] Currently available for Windows OS only


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