TechShould you cover your webcam? Have no doubt

Should you cover your webcam? Have no doubt

Is covering the webcam necessary?
Is covering the webcam necessary?
Images source: © Unsplash
ed. KBN

5:08 PM EDT, October 22, 2023, updated: 5:00 AM EDT, October 23, 2023

Have you ever wondered about the need to cover the camera on your laptop? This is a question that bothers many users, concerned about protecting their privacy. As it turns out, the answer to this question is not as complicated as it might seem.

The camera is an integral component of almost every modern laptops. It facilitates work by enabling video calls, and in newer models, allows for quick and convenient logging into the operating system using the Windows Hello feature.

However, the presence of a webcam can also raise concerns about privacy. Is it possible that someone is watching us through the webcam? Should we cover the webcam on our laptop? It's worth explaining a few issues related to this topic.

Laptop manufacturers are aware of the issue of unauthorized camera use and are taking steps to ensure user safety. When the camera is active, it should be clearly signaled - in older laptop models, a special LED light is visible that informs us that the camera is turned on (and whether someone is potentially spying on us through it).

Furthermore, the operating system also offers special safeguards. We often receive notifications that a given application is using the camera. We can also check which applications have access to the built-in camera and decide which ones should have such permissions.

In the Windows 11 system, the appropriate settings can be found in the menu: Start -> Settings -> Privacy and security -> Camera. Then you need to make sure that the "Access to the camera" option is enabled. The "Allow apps to access the camera" option allows you to determine which apps can gain access to the camera. Settings for a specific app can be found after activating this feature.

Despite these safeguards, some users may still feel uneasy. Therefore, laptop manufacturers have gone a step further. In newer models, it is increasingly common to find a mechanical webcam slider, which ensures that we will not be spied on.

Taping over the camera is not always the best solution. If a given laptop does not have a mechanical cover, some users may decide to tape over the camera or stick an additional cover (which can be bought for a few dollars). Taping over the camera is simple, quick, cheap and gives a greater sense of privacy. However, it is worth noting that it is not always a good idea.

Apple recently warned that using camera covers could damage MacBooks. The cover could cause damage due to the screen being too close to the keyboard when the laptop is closed. Moreover, covering the built-in camera could interfere with the operation of light sensors and disrupt features such as automatic brightness adjustment and True Tone.

Another aspect is the question of whether we are actually exposed to being watched through a webcam. In the past, cybercriminals massively sent out emails suggesting that they captured embarrassing recordings from your webcam. However, these were usually bluffs - criminals preyed on the fear and sense of shame of their victims, hoping for a ransom payout.

Much depends on what we do with our laptop- if we're not a public figure or we're not doing anything embarrassing, we can generally rest easy. Let's be honest - it's not very likely for cybercriminals to decide to hack random people, simply because it's not profitable. Especially if we have a good antivirus installed, the latest updates of the operating system and don't download strange programs from suspicious sources.

In conclusion, it's worth considering one thing. The smartphone is becoming a "second computer", which is increasingly used for the same applications - watching movies, browsing the internet, or contacting friends. It's just that fewer and fewer people are choosing to cover the camera on their smartphone.

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