Webcam Spying: How To Protect The Privacy of Your Employees

Various devices that can be usedfor webcam spying
Exponential advancements in technology has brought with it a dark side. Webcam spying and hacking is on the rise, and it’s our own fault.

As the workforce grows more mobile and businesses grow globally, the task of keeping your employees and organization safe from cyber threats can no longer just be to safeguard them only against external threats.

It is increasing becoming apparent that a more insidious threat, referred to as “an insider threat” is more than capable of leaving the critical data of your business vulnerable.

A good example of this is an analyses of the way employees interact with data across the organization, and how their actions can unwittingly defeat the protection of business data while exposing themselves to privacy concerns like webcam spying, especially in organizations without effective workforce and computer security monitoring programs.

Do your employees ever complain of having a funny feeling that they are being watched in the office, or in their hotel rooms when they are on the road? If so, you’re in the same boat as a lot of other Internet users.

As creepy as it sounds, webcam hacking and spying is a real danger, and peeping Toms could be watching your employees’ every move, in the privacy of their hotel rooms.

A substantial proportion of respondents to a recent survey on consumer security risks by cyber security firm, Kaspersky, admitted that they worry about surveillance from webcam spying malware. And that’s not their only concern.

With criminals constantly plotting new ways to access sensitive data, computer and mobile device users are facing a growing array of increasingly cunning cyber threats.

Think about it. How many potential spycams do we install in our offices and carry around with us? There is the ever present webcam on our laptops, cameras on our computer tablets and smartphones, and security surveillance system in our offices etc. And these can all be used to spy on you and your employees when you hit the road.

From your crazy former employee to cyber criminals looking to capture your personal and business details, anyone can easily hijack the camera on a given device and try to leverage the illegal footage for monetary gains, or worse.

For business users, webcam spying  and hacking can happen in different forms.

Remote Administration Webcam Spying

This usually takes the form of a socially engineered attack where the cyber crook pretends to be a technical support staff looking to install updates and some other software on a company-issued device using a remote administration tool or RAT.

All it takes is for the executive to be tricked into following a few simple instructions, and someone at the other end of that connection suddenly has full-blown access to your computer network.

While Remote administration software is quite common and can be a life saver to true IT administrators, it, unfortunately, has also become a tool of choice for the bad guys.

By programming a remote administration tool to break into computers, a cyber criminal can immediately turn a remote access software into something more devious and dangerous called a Remote Access Trojan or RAT .

The Remote Access Trojan malware is considered the ultimate hacking weapon because it lets a hacker remotely take control of a computer. Examples of some dangerous RATS are DarkComet, Mirage, MirageFox etc.

Webcam spy software spreads through freeware, and employees just love those coupons and free Starbucks gift codes. In addition, when on the road, there is the feeling that they can browse “freely” without the restrictions placed by those darn IT people at the office.

So they hop on their GMail, Yahoo or Outlook accounts and click on anything that pops up on spam emails, including those with infected attachments, and links to fake websites. They also happily install free drivers and applications or games.

What they may not be aware of is that malicious executable files can be combined with legitimate software to install malware in the background, without their input or your knowledge.

Of course, once the bad software is on the computer, a cyber criminal can hijack the webcam on the laptop, tablet or smartphone see what they are doing online.

In some extreme cases, hackers can read messages, perform screen captures and even record keyboard keystrokes. The scary part is that they have the ability to take full control of the device, including the camera.

What’s worse, they can disable notification lights (like the little red or blue light that lets you know of webcam activity.

Bottom line, your executive may believe that they are conducting business in the safety of their hotel rooms and may never realize that they are being watched.

Protecting Your Employees From Webcam Spying and Hacking

In most cases, normal defenses against malware like antivirus or anti-malware cannot effectively protect your employees from webcam spying. This is because it is very difficult to differentiate between a legitimate and illegal use of a webcam on a device, unless you are looking for it.

Webcam hackers are good at what they do and know how to hide in plain sight as the saying goes.

To protect your employees therefore, it is best to leverage systems that are specifically designed to analyze computers and devices for abnormal behavior, like, for example, the camera on a laptop suddenly recording when it was specifically turned off.

These tools are called intrusion detection systems .

We’ve searched the market for the best Intrusion Detection Systems. Our list contains a mix of bona fide Intrusion Detection Systems and other software which have an intrusion detection component or which can be used to detect intrusion attempts. They will typically do a better job of identifying Remote Access Trojans that other types of malware protection tools.

Log & Event Manager

instantaneous detection of suspicious activity (an intrusion detection functionality) and automated responses (an intrusion prevention functionality).

Threat Monitor

watches your environment for intrusion attempts and a few more types of threats.

Host-based intrusion detection system

the software primarily focuses on log and configuration files. It creates checksums of important files and periodically validates them, alerting you whenever something odd happens. It will also monitor and alert on any abnormal attempt at getting root access. On Windows hosts, the system also keeps an eye for unauthorized registry modifications which could be a tell-tale sign of malicious activity.

network-based Intrusion Detection System

can detect a wide variety of events such as stealth port scans, buffer overflow attacks, CGI attacks, SMB probes, and OS fingerprinting .