It’s not a paranoia, and I will demonstrate you why leaving the camera exposed is quite dangerous.
So, for the purpose of this experiment I set a small lab.
Imagine that you are enjoying your evening while surfing the internet…
To imitate a person, I left this sticker on the wall in front of the laptop, with a creepy message ICU.
Meanwhile, some malicious actor is searching for vulnerabilities:
In this particular case, machine is vulnerable to MS17–10 exploit, called “EternalBlue” and it was developed by the U.S. National Security Agency and leaked online in 2017.
Now, malicious actor loads exploit, includes payload, sets parameter and starts the attack.
Couple minutes later he gains access to your computer:
Now, let’s see what can he do with your camera?
Record audio from the microphone, start a video chat, take a snapshot… Yeah, let’s start with a snapshot:
Snapshot from the webcam, taken by attacker
Now… if that’s still not enough, attacker can proceed to the video stream:
As you can see, attacker can hear you, see you and watch you in a live stream.
And that’s is exactly why do some people cover their laptop cameras with tape, and why it’s NOT just a paranoia.
It doesn’t take much time to cover your camera with a tape, but it might save your privacy, finances and maybe even life.