Do you really need to cover your laptop camera?

My fiancée is really paranoid about this matter. Since I met her for first time, she was always covering her camera. I was always laughing at her….

One evening, my fiancée and I were watching a movie on her laptop, when we noticed that the camera LED occasionally turns on and then off.
At first, we didn’t suspected anything, but after two more blinks, I suspected that something was going on.

I immediately opened task manager and found out a few processes with strange names running. I wasn’t able to terminate them.

Then I analyzed output traffic with netstat and found out that one IP was showing over and over again and it wasn’t local IP address.
I also noticed that IP was always connected on port 1234.

I traced the IP address back to a city where one of my “friends” lived. I couldn’t get the exact address, nor street, but the city name was enough as I had only one “friend” there.

The friend I spoke to over Skype several hours ago that very same day and he sent me one of his programming projects (.exe file) and I naively ran it. It didn’t work, nothing happened. I hadn’t suspected anything as I trusted him back then.

When I saw that a lot of output traffic was going to a computer in the city where he lived I knew that the exe file I naively ran wasn’t just a dumb program which didn’t work, but something much worse. I cleaned it immediately.

RAT (Remote Administration Tool) – Or in this case malicious RAT, or trojan horse. He gave me a trojan; I infected myself; he enjoyed control, himself.

When I asked him about it on Skype, he sent me an evil grin and several photos of my fiancée and me staring in front of the laptop.

About him: It was a guy I never meet in RL, we meet on Facebook, and we were cooperating for a long time. I’m a programmer; he was a younger wannabe hacker/programmer, so after a while he decided to abuse our friendship using a tool someone else made.

Conclusion: Covering the camera isn’t necessary, but very good practice, as you never know who may be watching you. Worst thing is the false sense of security you may have, as I had, thinking that decent antivirus and knowledge will protect you from anything. However there are a lot of FUD crypters around, which any amateurs could use to encrypt his exe and make it undetectable for a while (until Antivirus corporations find out unique signature and put it in their virus definition databases).


  • Have a decent and up to date antivirus and recent definitions
  • Have a good firewall. No, not the one provided by Windows
  • Never run a program which someone sent you, even thought it may be coming from a friend
    If you want to run it, scan it with and if detection rate is lower than 10, you can disconnect your internet first and run it inside sandbox or virtual machine. Still it’s your own responsibility.
  • Covering the camera isn’t enough: having a microphone is enough for surveillance
  • Even if you follow best advice to protect your computer and devices, there is no better security than common sense.


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