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It works for the head of the FBI and the CEO of the world's largest social network, so it will work for you too. Recently, FBI Director James Comey and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg made headlines when the public learned both men use tape to cover up the cameras on their computers.Last year, in a Facebook post touting the growth of photo app Instagram, Zuckerberg inadvertently revealed his laptop with tape over the webcam.Comey was more up front about it, telling attendees of a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies it's a “sensible thing” to do, as reported by last September. It's likely some people are freaking out about their gadgets since Wikileaks released documents detailing tools used by the CIA to infiltrate consumer gadgets such as smartphones or smart TVs.(To be clear, the tactics mentioned in the Wikileaks documents couldn't be used against U. citizens currently in the United States without going through legal channels, and right now, it doesn't appear that they've been used that way.And what's in the documents doesn't appear to highlight anything new related to computer webcams, but the ability for hackers to access webcams is very real.)Kevin Haley, director of security response at Norton by Symantec, says users should maintain "basic security practices" to prevent someone from spying on your webcam, including keeping operating systems up to date, using strong security software, and being extra careful clicking on any links or attachments sent by email or through social networks. So long as the camera is clearly blocked and no one can see through the tape, you're good.Shodan's home page touts the service as "the search engine for power plants, refrigerators and webcams," among other things.Matherly was quick to point out that the company is not specifically focused on webcams.
"You have to — presumably — hack into a lot of PCs and figure out where there are naked people.
"Shodan has started to grab screenshots for various services where the existing text information didn't provide much information," founder John Matherly wrote in an email.
Or perhaps you're into a specific street corner in Guangzhou China? Full access to over 1,000 webcams — Of course, tech-savvy spies have always been able to tap into unsecured webcams or hack into poorly protected devices, but the new feature on Shodan makes it easier than ever for anyone to browse a library of webcams that have not been password protected.
But, creepiness aside, are there actual risks associated with, say, someone in a remote location tuning in to a baby monitor?
"When you think about the real-world risks, you have to reach pretty far to find something that would be genuinely bad," said Anton Chuvakin, security and risk management researcher at Gartner.