They allow us to easily communicate face-to-face with family and friends even if they are on the other side of the world.They allow journalists to interview people in far flung corners of the world.
The fact that webcams could potentially be used to spy on the very people using them is not new, but the reality of the threat may have first come to many people’s attention in 2014 when a former Miss Teen USA, Cassidy Wolf, had her webcam hacked by former classmate Jared James Abrahams.
There has been multiple examples of malware designed to specifically target webcams to allow hackers secretly watch their victims.
Among the best known of these pieces of malware was Blackshades, a remote access trojan (RAT) which was distributed simply by getting victims to visit infected websites, opening malicious email attachments or by plugging USB drives into their PCs. Among its other functionalities Blackshades allows the person using it to take control of the webcam of an infected user.
For months Abrahams managed infiltrate Wolf’s personal computer located in her bedroom without her knowledge and captured multiple images of her in compromising situations.
He then tried to blackmail Wolf via email and after handing himself into police, Abrahams revealed he had carried out similar attacks against up to 150 other victims — including one 14-year-old girl.
According to the FBI the piece of malware had infected over half a million PCs in over 100 countries around the world, selling for as little as $40 on the dark web.“For just $40, the Blackshades RAT enabled anyone, anywhere in the world to instantly become a dangerous cybercriminal, able to steal your property and invade your privacy,” Preet Bharara, the U. Attorney for the Southern District of New York said in 2014 after the creators of the malware had been arrested by the FBI.