If you have anything to hide from the internet at large — including your naked body — you might want to cover up your laptop camera.
As hacking scandals and sextortion schemes show up more and more often in the news, it can feel like there's no real way to keep yourself safe. Luckily, when it comes to someone trying to hack your laptop camera, there's one thing you can use that's simple, inexpensive, FBI-approved and will do the trick completely: a piece of tape.
Why would you tape your camera? Your laptop camera is hackable, and it's not even terribly difficult to do that. Using a remote administration tool, hackers can easily get access to your files, your private data and a live feed from your webcam from anywhere in the world.
Both hackers and the FBI know how to turn your camera on without turning on the indicator light that usually shines when your webcam is active. The threat of some government operative tuning in is so great that even the director of the FBI tapes over his laptop.
But even if you think you have nothing to hide from government operatives, it doesn't mean no one wants access to your camera. In 2013, a hacker hijacked the laptop webcam of Miss Teen USA and tried to extort her, threatening to release naked photos. These "sextortionists" aren't rare. They're a worldwide problem and they target hundreds —if not thousands — of people at once.
What should you use? Any kind of non-transparent tape will do. Duct tape or gaffer tape should last without leaving a heavy residue. Hell, use a Mickey Mouse Band-Aid if it does the trick. To test it out, simply make a Skype video call or use an app like Photobooth to check if the image is sufficiently obscured.
If you want a sleeker solution, there are professionally-made laptop camera covers that stick on to your laptop that have a sliding door — one setting for covered, one setting for when you actually need to use your laptop camera. A company called C-Slide exists for exactly this purpose.
They cost about $5 a pop and sometimes come in bundles if you need stocking stuffers for conspiracy-theorist uncles or party favors for a "Mr. Robot" viewing party.
Do you risk looking like a tinfoil hat weirdo? Maybe. But at least you're taking your privacy into your own hands.