Should we cover our laptop camera lens for protection or not?

Should we cover our laptop camera lens for protection or not?
Some experts see webcam covers as a final safeguard, while others don’t see them as useful at all.
© Provided by Huffington Post

If we’re paranoid about what visual access people can have to us when we’re working, when they shouldn’t, we might wonder if we need a physical camera cover over our computer lens.

Several high-profile public figures have been known to use camera covers…

Former FBI Director James Comey told “NPR” that he has used one. In a 2016 photo posted on his Facebook account, “Meta” CEO Mark Zuckerberg was seen using a sticker on his laptop camera.

Should we do the same?

Here’s what the experts think about how useful a dedicated camera cover can be.

There aren’t many legitimate safety reasons for needing coverage, but experts say it can’t hurt us

If we’re worried about accidentally leaving our camcorder on, a special camera cover could “alleviate” our worries.

Jonathan Young, associate vice president of “Vantage Technology Consulting Group”, uses special computer camera covers for this reason.

“Special camera covers are useful mainly because people sometimes turn on, or leave their cameras turned on accidentally,”

says.

“Or people have multiple cameras –a laptop camera and a standalone camera on an external display– and the wrong default can pop up and transmit work information, or an annoying, or otherwise inappropriate (face) view. I use camera covers on my devices for these reasons.”

Beyond saving ourselves potential embarrassment, there are important security reasons for doing so, says Michael Covington, vice president of portfolio strategy at “JAMF”, Apple’s device management platform.

“A physical camera cover is the last layer of security that ensures the user remains in control of when they appear on camera, especially when any of the following scenarios occur: Or the device’s camera may be accidentally activated due to a software bug. Or app developers may have malicious intent and create apps to record, or steal data through allowing the camera to (operate),”

he says.

If it’s the latter issue that worries us most —that hackers are looking into our home through our computer— then maybe we don’t need to worry so much, according to Nizel Adams, owner of “Nizel Corp”, a technology consulting firm of information in Chicago.

“I understand the paranoia. Nobody likes to feel vulnerable.”

says Adams.

“But if we take precautions, the chances of someone getting hacked or someone watching us on our camera are slim to none”…

Even if a hacker knows our computer’s password, he says, he’ll also need access to a lot of additional information about our computer to break into our screen, such as the external “IP” address of the network on which the device is located, the exact “IP” address, or computer name, and a port number, which is open and set for remote access.

Since many computer systems automatically disable this remote access feature by default, a hacker would also have to trick us into installing software to gain access, Adams says.

The second concern Adams has from people is that an “IT” professional will be the one to make the mistake of taking a look at an employee’s screen. However, he notes that “IT” employees typically have all their actions recorded in a secure system, which would raise the alarm if someone tried to access another person’s video camera.

In addition,

“In my 20+ years in the business, I know that the vast majority of “IT” people have no idea how to directly access someone’s camera remotely, especially not in a way that means the camera light would turn on and you wouldn’t see it”,

says.

“Camera-blocking filters aren’t useful in terms of privacy, but they do have some minor utility as a cover for the lens”,

adds Adams.

There are a few other ways we can keep our videos as private as possible besides using a screencap

  • Let’s double check that our video isn’t on before and after each meeting
  • Let’s keep in mind what background we have during our digital meetings
  • Let’s uninstall apps we don’t use regularly, and double check which ones have access to our camera
  • Let’s not open “mail” from people we don’t know
  • Let’s not use simple codes

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