Feel like you’re being watched? Kaspersky blocks hacked webcams

People who get undressed in front of their mobile devices or computers without a second thought could be the unwitting victims of prying eyes, it’s been claimed.

Feel like you're being watched? Kaspersky blocks hacked webcams

According to research by Kaspersky Lab, Britons are oblivious to the threat of webcam hacking, where an attacker surreptitiously takes control of a device’s camera and uses it to spy on the owner.

The study of 2,000 people showed 57% of adults have sex within sight of a camera, be it on their mobile phone, tablet, laptop or PC, while more than a third admitted to getting undressed in front of these types of devices. A further 29% said they took camera-enabled devices to the toilet or bath with them.

Of the 17.5% of mobile phone and tablet users who do try to take countermeasures, 40% believed simply closing the camera app was enough to disable it – in reality, it’s impossible to disconnect the camera on these devices, Kaspersky said.

The possibility of a “peeping Tom” in your webcam isn’t the only concern. The same type of hack can be used to steal photos from the user’s device, the company claimed.

Kaspersky’s senior security researcher, David Emm, said: “We think of our mobile devices as our window on the world, not realising that for cybercriminals it could be their window into ours.”

“Hacking into a device’s camera offers those with malicious intent access to our images, our most intimate moments, our identities, and the people we most want to protect, such as our children,” he added.

Kaspersky update

The research was carried out to mark the UK launch of the company’s 2015 suite of security products – Kaspersky Antivirus 2015, Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 and Kaspersky Internet Security Multi-Device 2015 – which have new features to combat this type of security threat.

All three products include a module called Webcam Protection, which defends against webcam hacking by monitoring which applications are trying to connect to the webcam. Users are then warned of these attempts and, if necessary, the module can block webcam access.

Another new feature of all three products is System Watcher, which specifically protects against ransomware, such as Cryptolocker.

The module analyses the programmes running on the computer or device, and if it detects a suspicious software trying to modify a file, it will immediately create a backup of it on the user’s computer, minus any external changes.

Then, if further analysis shows that the programme attempting to change the file was malicious, any changes that have been made will be undone, the company said.

The final key new technology is Wi-Fi Security Notification, a feature present in Internet Security 2015 and Internet Security Multi-Device 2015.

It verifies the security of Wi-Fi hotspots, the company said, and notifies the user if potential threats are detected, such as a vulnerable network connection or the transmission of an unencrypted password. It also offers tips and recommendations on how customers can secure their home Wi-Fi network.

All three products run on Windows XP to Windows 8.1, Mac OS X 10.6 to 10.9, and Android 2.3 to 4.3. However, Webcam Protection, System Watcher and Wi-Fi Security Notification are only available in the Windows version of the products.

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