Do you really need to hide the computer’s webcam?


Films and series have largely contributed to generating a certain psychosis around this small lens located near your computer screen. The webcam is often perceived as a gateway to your private lifewithin the reach of any hacker.

Even Mark Zuckerberg, director of Meta (Facebook), uses a cache for his webcam. Former FBI Director James Like too. Edward Snowden’s revelations about massive NSA espionage have not helped to lift this psychosis around webcams either.

Is the famous little piece of tape stuck on the webcam really a good way to prevent being spied on by pirates? Well according to experts, this method would be ineffective.

“Caches are of no use”

In a HuffPost article spotted by Slate, security experts explain that using a cache on the webcam is useless. Nizel Adams, owner of Nizel Corp (information technology consulting company), assures that “caches are of no use when it comes to privacy”. And ironically: “they have a minor interest in keeping the lens dust free”. He adds :

I understand the paranoia, nobody likes to feel vulnerable, but I’ve been in this industry for over twenty years, and I know the vast majority of IT admins don’t have a clue how to access to someone’s webcam remotely, let alone without the light coming on.

According to him, to activate the webcam remotely, a hacker must be in possession of a lot of confidential information that only you hold. “Even if a hacker knows your password, they will need more information to gain access to your screen, such as the network’s external IP address, the computer’s IP address, and an open port number” he explains.

The only way for a hacker to gain access to your webcam is to use software that you must install first. It must therefore find a method to convince you to install this software.

Better than a cache, your vigilance

For your webcam to be controlled by a third party, you must therefore have authorized access to your computer, in one way or another. There is no piracy unless there is human error.

It is therefore more prudent to be vigilant in your daily use. For example, disable the automatic launch of the webcam before a video. Always check that the light is not on before or after.

Above all, apply the basics: use a complex password (with upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters), do not click on dubious links, never rush and never open attachments from email addresses that seem suspicious to you.

Do you have to do without cache? Michael Covington, vice president of portfolio strategy at Jamf (Apple device management platform) explains that “cache keeps the user in control if the camera accidentally turns on due to a bug, or if app developers capture or steal data through the camera permission”.

In absolute terms, hiding your webcam is therefore not necessary. But if you are the very, very careful type, you are of course free to do as you wish.

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