Risk
6/27/2013
10:02 AM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Sextortion Warning: Masking Tape Time For Webcams

"Camjacking" attacks activate your webcam and record your every move. Female images are in demand.

New worries for the always-connected crowd: Attackers may remotely activate your webcam -- without tripping the warning light -- and remotely record your every activity, public and private. Is it time to invest in some masking tape?

For years, malware known as remote-access tools (RATs) have included the ability to surreptitiously activate microphones and webcams -- dubbed "camjacking" -- amongst other nefarious activities, such as sucking up all of your bank account details.

To avoid RAT attacks, security experts already recommend keeping all operating systems and installed applications up to date. But should everyday users -- meaning people who aren't information security experts or Syrian dissidents -- be concerned about camjacking attacks? More to the point, should everyone cover up their webcams when not in use?

[ How much do people care about privacy? Read one point of view: Online Privacy: We Just Don't Care. ]

On the one hand, the likelihood of a teenage miscreant -- or criminal, or government intelligence analyst -- with too much time on his hands targeting your system with a RAT and harvesting images to share with seedy, like-minded RAT aficionados, or for blackmail purposes or political persecution, is reportedly rare.

On the other hand, the FBI in 2010 accused Luis Mijangos of sextortion attacks against 230 people, including 44 minors, which involved his compromising their PCs and attempting to extort them into providing sexually explicit videos. Earlier this year, the bureau also arrested Karen "Gary" Kazaryan, charging him with running a similar sextortion campaign against 350 women between 2009 and 2011.

As that suggests, there's a subculture that thrives on trading stolen webcam images. Perusing a section of HackForums.net devoted to RATs produces a wealth of images labeled as "hot female slaves" and "ugly slaves," reported Sydney Morning Herald. Recent posts have promised "150+ slaves over night!" while one tutorial was titled, "How to keep the slave for as long as possible [ Easy Steps ]." Comments on the post stretched to 19 pages.

The BBC recently interviewed a 17-year-old Finnish hacker, "Matti," who said that the going rate on the criminal underground for access to a woman's webcam was $1, while the same amount would buy access to 100 men's webcams. He claimed to have hacked into and sold access to 500 systems. "There's always pervs on the Internet who want to buy female 'bots,' and most likely if they want a webcam they take photos and sell it," he said.

Rachel Hyndman, 20, a Glasgow-based student who also works in a computer shop, told the BBC that while watching a DVD on her laptop in the bath, the "camera active light" on her laptop suddenly went on, in an apparent camjacking attack, and when she tried to access the webcam control panel, she couldn't. "Programs were opening up and closing by themselves, it was just acting like someone else was using them," she said, which continued until she deactivated her Wi-Fi connection. "I was sitting in the bath, trying to relax, and suddenly someone potentially has access to me in this incredibly private moment and it's horrifying," she said. "To have it happen to you without your consent is horribly violating."

Suddenly, splashing out a few bucks on some masking tape doesn't seem like a bad idea.

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
Partner Perspectives
What's This?
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-8243
Published: 2014-11-01
Linksys SMART WiFi firmware on EA2700 and EA3500 devices; before 2.1.41 build 162351 on E4200v2 and EA4500 devices; before 1.1.41 build 162599 on EA6200 devices; before 1.1.40 build 160989 on EA6300, EA6400, EA6500, and EA6700 devices; and before 1.1.42 build 161129 on EA6900 devices allows remote a...

CVE-2014-8244
Published: 2014-11-01
Linksys SMART WiFi firmware on EA2700 and EA3500 devices; before 2.1.41 build 162351 on E4200v2 and EA4500 devices; before 1.1.41 build 162599 on EA6200 devices; before 1.1.40 build 160989 on EA6300, EA6400, EA6500, and EA6700 devices; and before 1.1.42 build 161129 on EA6900 devices allows remote a...

CVE-2013-0334
Published: 2014-10-31
Bundler before 1.7, when multiple top-level source lines are used, allows remote attackers to install arbitrary gems by creating a gem with the same name as another gem in a different source.

CVE-2014-2334
Published: 2014-10-31
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the Web User Interface in Fortinet FortiAnalyzer before 5.0.7 allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors, a different vulnerability than CVE-2014-2336.

CVE-2014-2335
Published: 2014-10-31
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the Web User Interface in Fortinet FortiManager before 5.0.7 allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified vectors, a different vulnerability than CVE-2014-2336.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.