Virtually every computer sold today comes with a dirty little secret. What’s more, if hackers can infect your computer with malware they can hijack your webcam and secretly watch you too – regardless of whether they’re based down the street or on the other side of the world.
In some cases, if they’re really crafty, hackers can even spy on you without the LED on your webcam lighting up.
Notable victims of webcam hacking include Cassidy Wolf, an American model who was crowned Miss Teen USA in 2013.
Abrahams sent Wolf an anonymous email, threatening to post the intimate photographs of her on social media websites, unless she agreed to send additional photos to him or (eww…) strip for him during a Skype video chat.
Here’s a video of Cassidy Wolf being interviewed about the hack on CNN last year: Wolf did the right thing.
She didn’t give in to the extortionist’s demands, she told her parents what was happening, and contacted the police so they could investigate.
Fortunately, Abrahams was caught, and received an 18 month prison sentence for his crimes against Wolf and other victims. In May last year, the European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit, announced it had arrested almost 100 people worldwide, in an operation targeting the developers and users of Blackshades, a kit of malware tools sold online for just $40.
Amongst those arrested was Swedish hacker Alex Yücel, the co-creator of the Blackshades Remote Access Tool (RAT), which provides an easy way for perverts to remotely commandeer the webcams of unsuspecting parties and snoop upon their activities.
Yücel was clearly doing quite nicely by selling software that helped hack people’s webcams and access their computer files, being able to hire several paid administrators, including a director of marketing, customer service staff, and a director of marketing.
Between September 2010 and April 2014, Blackshades had generated sales of more than 0,000.
You can do your maths yourself to determine just how many people must have been buying the malicious software, and had within their power the ability to hack into stranger’s computers and spy upon them.
Yücel pleaded guilty earlier this year to distributing malware, Although arrests have been made in relation to the Blackshades RAT malware, there are plenty of other tools and trojan horses in existence which can help strangers snoop upon you.