Tech Trouble: Webcam Safety

Securing your computer from the growing threat of camfection


Illustration by Chanjun Park

Eugene Sung, Jessica Woo, and Alyssa Chang

“Guys! Please turn on your cameras!” It’s a common phrase we’ve all heard during online learning. Cameras are used for many reasons: teachers use them to see if students are focusing during class, friends use them to record good and bad pictures of each other… and hackers use them to hack. Wait, what? Hacking? Yes, hacking has become very common, especially during the pandemic era, as people spend more and more time on technology. Many students around DIS have been using everyday items to block their cameras’ lenses. This is because webcams can be taken over through malware, and become a peephole into your personal life.

When you google the term “camfecting,” search results indicate that it refers to when a victim’s camera is infected with a virus, which gives the hacker full access to the victim’s webcam. This problem is much more severe than it sounds – hackers can track what you are doing every day in your own home – without you even realizing. With the increase of people using their webcams daily, many students have become susceptible to camfecting, and thus, a breach of privacy.

Students at DIS are also becoming aware of the hacking syndrome happening around the world. Chirayu in 6th grade commented on his concern: “As I learned about this issue, I decided that I should also be aware and cautious about my technical safety.” As teachers and staff commonly use webcams for staff meetings and business calls, this concern has spread beyond the students within a short amount of time. Mr. Pierog, our tech-savvy computer teacher says, “I have tried putting stickers on my webcam, since people like Mark Zuckerburg do so. I think that it has been very effective yet simple, and I feel much safer than before.” Just by covering webcams with stickers, electrical tape, or even sticky-notes, DIS citizens have been stepping up their levels of digital safety.

As the pandemic continues to affect our lives, it is essential that we be aware of our surroundings and make sure to keep ourselves safe from the dark side of technology that continues to mold and shape itself to the changes that occur around us.