With work from home, remote class, tele-medicine, webcam is becoming an essential tool on your computer. In the past, mainly You-tubers or game streaming KOLs were using it every day. US reported that webcam was sold out in major US cities in May.
No matter you are using an external webcam with fancy features (like the one from Razer’s Kiyo Streaming Webcam which has a light ring, auto focus, light correction) or built-in webcam on computer, webcam can cause major privacy concerns.
Some worrying cybersecurity risks related to webcam that you need to be aware of:
1. Access webcam from websites
Software developers in Chrome, Firefox and Edge are doing a great job to enable seamless integration of webcam with websites. A website can access webcam and stream videos with a few lines of programming codes. That is how Zoom can leverage to build on their video conferencing software. The same functionality that Zoom is using is also available to other websites, good ones and bad ones.
2. Firewall not able to filter out webcam traffic
To reduce user setup issues, webcam is using the same traffic channel as other website content (like gif, jpeg, videos). This offers ease of use since users do not need to make changes to firewall rules when using webcam. But at the same time, it also means firewall is not able to filter out webcam traffic.
3. Kids accustomed to webcam’s presence.
It’s becoming a norm for young kids using the webcam for study and video chat with friends. They may not be aware of webcam risks and sometimes leaves it running. In some extreme cases, kids may believe a video call is from a trusted source and interact with people showing their faces on webcam.
We should be vigilant when bringing a new technology into our community no matter it’s your family or your company. Some precautions and safety measures are essential.
- Cover the webcam with a cap or turn it to face the ceiling when not in use.
- Make sure its software is up to date
- Check privacy settings regularly on your computer and make sure only valid and known software is allowed to access webcam. This should be done at least monthly.
- Create a separate account for young kids to limit their access to webcam. Thus, forcing them to ask for a password before they can use webcam.
We should be vigilant when bringing a new technology into our community no matter it’s your family or your company.
Stay Safe and Productive!