Safety When Using Business Webcams

Have regular video meetings become a part of your work schedule? You are not alone. Since the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown measures being put into place, there has been a significant increase in the number of businesses and employees working from home.

With more people working remotely, video conferencing software like Zoom etc. and webcams to use with them, have become essential. Most of us can’t, after all, walk from our own office or cubicle into the physical conference room in the office space where we normally work. It’s not just business owners and employees who are making use of these solutions, as religious groups and personal users are using them for non-work-related needs.

As great and useful as these applications and hardware are, they do raise important safety issues you may never have needed to consider in the past.

What Are the Risks Involved in Using a Webcam?

Technology has become integral to most of our lives and even people who don’t use technology for work (or didn’t before the Covid-19 pandemic), use it for recreational and social reasons. Technology playing such a crucial part of our daily lives means that we are exposed to risks we wouldn’t be otherwise.

An image of a home office set up including web camera, bluetooth headsets and business telephone. PMC Telecom LTD.

As you are undoubtedly aware, we live in an era where cybercrime is rife and there are cyber criminals out there who are always looking to exploit technology to get hold of sensitive information, such as bank details for different forms of financial and identity fraud. You likely know the importance of having antivirus, anti-malware and firewalls installed in your computer to protect against attacks, along with using good practices when it comes to creating profiles and passwords.

Extortion and Blackmail

One form of attack many cybercriminals use, however, does not rely on obtaining your login details and passwords or money through the more traditional methods most often discussed. Many use that bit of hardware that if you didn’t use it, you’d probably forget it was even there – the webcam.

What can they do? Well, it really depends on what they are looking to achieve. Some, hack into your webcam and use it to take compromising pictures and video footage of you, when you are getting dressed, bathing or involved in activities you would rather keep private. They then use that footage to blackmail you and extort money from you. If you don’t, they’ll upload and spread the footage or images. Something that most of us would not want.

That’s not the only tactic they use, however. Other hackers have been known to use webcams to focus on the user’s surroundings and either uses that to find sensitive documents to make copies of or worse in some ways, discover your location and take images of your children. Again, these measures are used as leverage by the attackers to make you pay them.

How Can You Prevent Potential Attacks?

As with other security measures you may have in place on your computer, a lot of the best protection against potential attacks is preventative. After all, there is not a lot you can do once they have images, video footage or other information that these attackers are interested in.

You should follow standard practices for safety online, like avoiding downloading programs from unreliable or unofficial sources and opening emails or messages from addresses and people you don’t recognise. Aside from that, one of the most direct and practical measures you can take to ensure your webcam is safe is to cover it when it is not in use.

Webcam Covers and Foldable Webcams

There are special webcam covers you can buy if you already have a webcam or are using the onboard option on your computer.

If you do not currently have one, there are many business webcams available. A foldable business webcam, like the Logitech B525, is an affordable option. Whereas, models that have privacy shutters include the Logitech Brio or the C925e business webcam are also worth considering.

With any new technology you start using, there is a period of adjustment you need to go through where you learn the new normal. You may never have had to use a webcam with your computer at home before recreationally, so it will all be new now that you must do it for work. However, by keeping in mind the suggestions above, you can make sure you, your home and family are safe while you are still remote working. Regardless of whether you will be returning to your office sometime soon, when restrictions ease or this is the new normal for you for the foreseeable future.