Security News

Three out of five Americans concerned hackers could spy on them via their webcam

Stefanie Smith, 17 October 2017

Avast solutions help users control who can access their webcam to prevent unwanted spying.

In October, we conducted an online survey around webcam security awareness and found that 61% of Americans are concerned hackers could spy on them through their computer’s camera.

They have every reason to be concerned.

Tools that can hack a computer’s webcam are available on the regular web, as well as the darknet, in some cases even for free. Although many computers come with a light that indicates the webcam has been activated, tools can circumvent the light from being triggered.

The survey reveals that Americans are more aware that hackers can spy on them without activating their webcam’s indicator light compared to the global results. Globally, two in every five (40%) respondents are unaware of the threat, while two-thirds of Americans claim they know of the possibility.

Many people, like former FBI Director, James Comey, and Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, cover their webcam to prevent unwanted spies from watching them. However, despite concerns being high, only 52 percent of Americans have physically covered up their computer’s webcam.

Covering webcams is a good start, but can be an inconvenience if you frequently need to use your webcam. We at Avast understand this inconvenience, which is why we give our users complete control over who can use their camera, without having to physically cover it up. – Ondrej Vlcek, CTO of Avast

Avast’s new feature, Avast Webcam Shield, which comes with Avast Premier, ends webcam spying for good by blocking malware and untrusted apps from hijacking webcams. Furthermore, users have the option of forcing all apps to ask their permission before they can access the computer’s webcam. The same feature is offered in AVG Internet Security, under a different name, Webcam Protection.