Hackers Turn Webcams Into Spy Cams

by CXOtoday Staff    Aug 24, 2004

Sophos released a warning yesterday about a worm that has the capability to use webcams to spy on computer users in their home or workplace.

The W32/Rbot-GR worm spreads via network shares, exploiting a number of Microsoft security vulnerabilities, installing a backdoor Trojan horse as it travels.

Once installed on an infected computer, remote hackers can easily gain access to the information on the PC’s hard drive and steal passwords, as well as spy on innocent users via their webcam and microphone.

“More and more hackers are interested in spying on the people they manage to infect with their worms and Trojan horses. In the workplace, this worm opens up the possibilities of industrial espionage. At home it is equivalent to a Peeping Tom who invades your privacy by peering through your curtains,” said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos.

“If your computer is infected and you have a webcam plugged in, then everything you do in front of the computer can be seen, and everything you say can be recorded,” added Cluley.

Sophos believes that the W32/Rbot-GR worm is evidence of a growing trend of more and more malware spying on innocent home computer owners and poorly-protected businesses.

“With many home users keeping poorly-defended PCs in their bedroom, there is considerable potential for abuse. The message is simple - keep your PC protected against the latest threats with anti-virus software and firewalls, and if in any doubt unplug your webcam when you’re not using it,” concluded Cluley.