This Is Why You Might Want to Put a Strip of Tape On Your Laptop Camera

Source: Flickr
Source: Flickr

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.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Jack Smith IV

Jack Smith IV is a senior writer covering technology and inequality. Send tips, comments and feedback to jack@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

UK Parliament hit with cyberattack

Members of Parliament had difficulty accessing their emails Saturday in the wake of the attack.

Istanbul LGBT pride march banned by government for safety concerns

A right-wing nationalist group has vowed to stop the protest.

Compounds seized by US in December reportedly contained material useful in Russia probe

The Trump administration has reportedly been considering returning the New York and Maryland compounds to Russia.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

UK Parliament hit with cyberattack

Members of Parliament had difficulty accessing their emails Saturday in the wake of the attack.

Istanbul LGBT pride march banned by government for safety concerns

A right-wing nationalist group has vowed to stop the protest.

Compounds seized by US in December reportedly contained material useful in Russia probe

The Trump administration has reportedly been considering returning the New York and Maryland compounds to Russia.