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Old 03-17-2014, 07:39 PM   #1
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Default Can Your Computer Cam Be On Without Light?

Is it possible for your computer's camera to be on (and someone watching you) without the light being on? I'm paranoid of some crazy hacker and always wondered about this. If it's possible, would these people also receive audio from your location as well?

I currently place a sticky note over the camera lens just to be safe.
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Old 03-17-2014, 07:42 PM   #2
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Default Re: Can Your Computer Cam Be On Without Light?

Hmm I think its on and you can't disable the light but I maybe wrong. Sounds like you are up to no good.
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Old 03-18-2014, 02:16 AM   #3
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Default Re: Can Your Computer Cam Be On Without Light?

Yes it is possible (done it to freak out friends). I disable my camera until I need it
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Old 03-18-2014, 11:30 AM   #4
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Default Re: Can Your Computer Cam Be On Without Light?

All they're going to see from mine is me working on my model quads. Otherwise the lappy is off with the lid down.
On most laptops the indicator LED is wired across the power leads to the camera. If it's on the LED is on. If you're that paranoid just unplug the camera from the motherboard.
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Old 03-18-2014, 12:23 PM   #5
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Default Re: Can Your Computer Cam Be On Without Light?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BK_123 View Post
Hmm I think its on and you can't disable the light but I maybe wrong. Sounds like you are up to no good.
?? Up to no good??

I'M the one paranoid of being a victim, lol!

What did you mean, btw, with saying that it's on? You mean you can see me??? Are you hackign me???!!

---------- Post added at 12:23 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:21 PM ----------

Don't know how to disable my camera though. I don't mind if I just have to place a sticker over the cam, but again I'm worried about sound.

Are you sure they cannot also hear audio if they hack you? I talk on my phone and do other stuff that could be sensitive when I'm near my desk for doing work. Even if they can't see me, but can hear me that might be bad.
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Old 03-18-2014, 12:46 PM   #6
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Default Re: Can Your Computer Cam Be On Without Light?

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Originally Posted by jakeny View Post
?? Up to no good??

I'M the one paranoid of being a victim, lol!

What did you mean, btw, with saying that it's on? You mean you can see me??? Are you hackign me???!!
I think he meant to say "if it's on"


Quote:
Originally Posted by jakeny View Post
Don't know how to disable my camera though. I don't mind if I just have to place a sticker over the cam, but again I'm worried about sound.

Are you sure they cannot also hear audio if they hack you? I talk on my phone and do other stuff that could be sensitive when I'm near my desk for doing work. Even if they can't see me, but can hear me that might be bad.
If you are that worried about it, then you need to take the time to learn how to disable it. I assume we are talking about a laptop? There sould be software insatlled that will let you disable it.
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Old 03-18-2014, 03:01 PM   #7
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Default Re: Can Your Computer Cam Be On Without Light?

Webcam lights are often software switches, not hardware - so yes, it can easily be turned off and the webcam itself remain on. See here (show notes for Security Now podcast #437) for a specific instance of vulnerable webcam software.

If your bios has a hardware switch then this should be more reliable, but in reality the best approach is a webcam with a mechanical sliding shutter, or if you don't have one of those - good old fashioned opaque tape across the lens.
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Old 03-18-2014, 06:51 PM   #8
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Default Re: Can Your Computer Cam Be On Without Light?

That hack only worked on old MacBook webcams, doesn't mean it would work on any other webcam.

If the OP is that paranoid, he shouldn't have a PC with a webcam. I wonder if he also wears a tin-foil hat to prevent hackers from reading his thoughts?
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Old 03-19-2014, 02:52 PM   #9
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Default Re: Can Your Computer Cam Be On Without Light?

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That hack only worked on old MacBook webcams, doesn't mean it would work on any other webcam.
Indeed, which is why I said 'specific instance' - but the point remains that webcams, since governed by software, are susceptible to vulnerabilities just the same as any other software-controlled component.

I don't believe this type of attack is particularly likely from a traditional malware threat (i.e. there is no immediate financial gain) but for spyware badged as 'monitoring software' or for those involved in child exploitation, webcam hijacking is an attractive proposition. Those may be rather sad circumstances, but unfortunately it is clear that the world today contains a lot more of this kind of thing than one might expect (or hope for).

Quote:
Originally Posted by strollin View Post
If the OP is that paranoid, he shouldn't have a PC with a webcam. I wonder if he also wears a tin-foil hat to prevent hackers from reading his thoughts?
As for paranoia, the OP question is simply 'can it be on without a light' - to which the answer is probably yes, for the reasons outlined above. I (and probably others) are not suggesting that the OP will inevitably be a victim of this, but simply giving a technical response. Probability is affected by far too many factors to be worth considering in a forum such as this, but if you aren't a regular user of the webcam and there are trivial mitigation strategies (such as hardware switches, shutters or opaque tape) then why not make use of them? i.e. it's not worth avoiding the device you want because it does have a webcam and buying a lesser device which doesn't have a webcam when a 'fix' costs nothing.
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Old 03-20-2014, 07:51 AM   #10
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Default Re: Can Your Computer Cam Be On Without Light?

A piece of electrical tape is the first thing to go onto any laptop I use that has a webcam.
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