The convenience of having a personal device with a touch-ready camera is a great privilege that comes with significant benefits both at home and at work. Whether capturing your partner’s funny moment or meeting with potential investors for your up-and-coming venture, camera phones have never been so used and appreciated as they have been in the last year.
Alas, with every good thing comes an opportunity for someone to take advantage of a vulnerability. In this case, camfecting has become a present problem. Camfecting (camera+infecting) is what hackers do to gain access to a device’s camera for unauthorized purposes.
So, can your phone camera be hacked? The answer is yes, and so can your desktop, laptop, and tablet cameras. If that’s not enough, many cameras don’t even need to be “hacked” because access is already open to any cybercriminal. That’s why most breaches of privacy go unnoticed by the camera’s owner.
Reasons Phone Cameras Are Hacked
Having your cameras hacked can have consequences that are far-reaching and worrisome. Some reasons cybercriminals and hackers want access to phone/laptop/tablet cameras are to:
- Gather restricted information for financial gain, mostly for business reasons.
- Blackmail a person for a ransom over “inappropriate” images or behavior. This doesn’t actually happen very often, but there are many spam emails sent trying to convince people they’ve been “caught on camera”, just so they’ll pay up.
- Use images for personal benefit. This is rare because most people don’t know how to get access or hack a camera, and pros don’t get anything “personal” out of it.
Secure All Your Cameras
Take a minute and think about all the possible internet-accessible cameras you have around your home. Do you own any of these IoT gadgets?
- Smart TV
- Doorbell cameras
- Home security cameras
- Drones with a camera
- Robots or other toys that “see” things
- Smart refrigerator
- Robot vacuum
Believe it or not, they all hold hacking potential, making it important to learn how to protect your IP cameras from hacking.
How to Secure Your Phone Camera So It Can’t Get Hacked
If you’re worried and self-conscious about your cameras getting hacked, negating any privacy you thought you could enjoy in your own home, it’s time to talk about security. Fortunately, it is possible to protect yourself from prying eyes; all it takes is a little bit of know-how.
Here are four simple steps to help secure your phone camera so it can’t get hacked.
1. Lock It Up
If your phone doesn’t automatically lock itself, make sure you set it to require a passcode (a strong one), fingerprint, or facial recognition to open. It may seem a little inconvenient and repetitive this way, but leaving it accessible isn’t worth the risk.
2. Stay Updated
It may seem a bother to regularly update your phone’s operating system and software, but these seemingly mundane “bug fixes” actually contain the most up-to-date security improvements you need in order to stay safe. So whenever a notification comes up, install it immediately (or set your phone to automatically install all updates).
3. Never Publicly Sign In
Public WiFi is a big no-no. Anywhere you sign in through it, be it a library, doctor’s office, or shopping center, you open up your phone’s vulnerability. In fact, you should turn off your auto-join feature and Bluetooth altogether and only turn it on when you need it. If you must use public WiFi, first log into a VPN that tunnels networks through encrypted communications.
4. Know Your Apps’ Origins and Manage Their Permissions
Only download apps from official platforms (Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store). Never download apps that were sent to you via text. Also, don’t jailbreak/root your phone or use one that has been.
Some apps default their way into having access to your camera. Check each app’s settings to ensure camera access is turned off. While you’re at it, revoke any other unneeded permissions that defaulted to “on” when downloaded.