Many mobile computers have webcams built-in nowadays so that users can use it for communication. Webcams can be used to video chat for instance using programs such as Skype.
While that is great for users who use it for that, others who never use a webcam may want to consider disabling it on the system instead.
Government agencies like the FBI have used computer cameras in the past to monitor users through webcams connected to computer systems, all without triggering the recording light that is usually on when the camera is in use.
The effectiveness of attacks targeting webcams depends on a number of factors including vulnerabilities in the software itself but also malware that is running on the target PC.
Hackers too can exploit these vulnerabilities as well and make use of malware.
Considering that there is no need to keep the cam enabled at all times or at all if it is never used, you may want to turn it off on your system instead to avoid things like this from ever happening to you.
Disable the internal camera
Here is what you need to do to disable the internal camera of your PC running Windows.
- Tap on the Windows-key to open the start menu or start screen (Windows 8).
- Type Device Manager and select the first result from the list.
- If everything worked out fine, the Windows Device Manager should open.
- If not, try the following approach instead: Use Windows-R to open the runbox on the system. Type devmgmt.msc and hit enter.
- Locate Imaging Devices and there Integrated Camera. If it is not listed there, you may want to check under Sound, video and game controllers to see if it is listed there instead.
- Right-click on Integrated Camera and select disable from the context menu.
- Confirm the prompt that appears
- The camera has been disabled and cannot be used anymore unless it is enabled first.
- To enable it again, repeat the process but select enable from the right-click context menu to do so.
There are other options to deal with cameras. You can for instance close the lid of the laptop when you are not using it, put tape on it to block its view, or simply point it towards a different direction if you are in a situation in which you do not want to be monitored or recorded.