On Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg uploaded a picture on his Facebook wall to celebrate a milestone. The company’s recent purchase, Instagram, registered more than 500 million active users. Accordingly, he held a giant Instagram-like frame to compel a themed picture. He also praised Kevin Systrom and Mike Kreiger for their ideas. It was all nice until some people like the guys at Gizmodo realized something curious. The founder of the biggest social media in the world covers his webcam and, apparently, laptop’s mic with tape.
The internet is not a place for sensitive individuals, and a lot of people started making fun and sarcastic comments about the situation, but this is one of the leaders of the tech world we are talking about. Unlikely most users, Mr. Zuckerberg is a high-profile person, and these privileged groups of people usually need more protection in every aspect.
The internet is everything but a safe place. There are just too many threats and too many people with too much free time. For some people, Zuckerberg might seem paranoid, but with a simple Google search on “How to hack a webcam” thousands of websites where “specialists” explain to the regular internet user how to violate another person’s privacy can be found.
“It’s time to let out your inner creep. In this tutorial, we’ll be taking a look at how we can hack a webcam remotely and take a peek at what’s going on at the other side,” reads the introduction of one of these sites.
People should do a lot more than just taping their webcams
According to some surveys, more than 70% of the population living in the United States have been victims of cyber-crime. Most of them have been malware they catch up while carelessly surfing the net. E-mails and infected websites are the second biggest threat, but there is a huge number of individuals that like to hack webcams out of sheer curiosity. One of the greatest problems is that is fairly simple to do it.
According to Kaspersky, most cybercriminals focus their efforts on banking institutions, but that is another issue. For the regular citizen who just wants to protect his intimacy, there is a list of things that they can do to protect themselves from curious eyes. First, updating the OS. These pieces of software usually have some flaws that somebody could use to access your computer, and providers like Microsoft are aware of them. That is why there are frequent updates to the OS, they constantly find and fix these problems. Obviously, every user should have a complete antivirus, and remember to protect all their gadgets with passwords. It is easy to forget that everything connected to a network can be used as an access point, so if for example, a person has an intelligent toaster, it would be a good idea to put a password on it which leads to another topic: the password has to be strong.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 23, 2016
People like using personal information such as dates of birth because they are easy to remember, but they are also easy to Google, so being creative when choosing a PIN is strongly suggested. Also, the cloud is great, but it exists on the internet, and everybody knows that once a file touches the net, it will stay there forever. Not technically true, but personal pictures or other sensitive information should not be stored in the cloud.
These are great suggestions, but it all comes to common sense. Phising and scam pages still exist, and too many people fall for them. Furthermore, as good as antivirus can be, there is a delay time between the moment a malware reaches a PC, and the moment the program detects it. Some experts say it could take months for a virus to be detected which gives a lot of time to the attacker to do as he pleases.
Cyber-security is a fairy tale for most people because “bullet-proof” protection is expensive. And even then, some people can bypass most security measures like the NSA according to the info leaked by Edward Snowden. Hardware manufacturers are also aware of the situation, and that is why even cheap Genius webcams have a little piece of plastic users can move to cover them. The only thing that is wrong with Mark Zuckerberg’s picture is that he has to use tape on a laptop that costs several hundred dollars.