Modern day peepers use your webcams - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Modern day peepers use your webcams

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(WMC-TV) – There is no doubt, you would feel violated, even angry, if you found out your information was stolen. But here is something else to think about... hackers are finding ways to watch what you're doing through your webcam.

They can gather images, video, even information about you, without you ever knowing.

With the perks of staying connected on the go come some very scary and very real risks.

"There have been cases where there's been some web snooping through web cams that are on your laptops and software that can even come in behind the scenes turn your camera on your laptop and you wouldn't be aware of it," said security expert Jef Marselis.

You read it right, hackers can control your webcam. But let us back up for a second and think about where your computer is being used. Maybe in your hotel room on business or vacation? In bed while you work or surf the web at night? Or listening to music while you're in the shower.

There is even malicious software that can turn off the red or green light that shows when your webcam is working, meaning… you may have no idea when someone is watching.

"A lot of time I'm just in my pajamas or maybe even a little less because I'm in the privacy of my own home," said Eileen Campbell, who uses Skype.

It is happening everywhere – all over the world.

In fact, the FBI is now calling this type of snooping "cyber terrorism".

While some are just out for a cheap thrill, others, like 32-year-old Luis Mijangos, are what the FBI calls a full blown "sextortionist".

Mijangos was convicted of capturing images and video from more than 100 computers, many of whom were young teen girls.

Security Expert Jef Marselis says if you do not have the right security settings, especially in public places, there is a one in ten chance of getting hacked. And even if you think you are risk free, you are not.

"Some people might close their laptop. We've had folks that have put a piece of tape over the lens. There's also a way to disable and turn off your camera, but to protect yourself in the best way possible you have to keep that virus and software security up to date. That's your best line of defense," said Marselis.

Marselis admits there is no one virus of malware scanner program that will catch everything, so he suggests downloading two. That way, if one scan misses a new virus, the other may catch it.

Norton and McAfee are common programs, but be prepared to pay $50 to $80 each year for a subscription. Marselis also gives two thumbs up for AVG and MalwareBytes, both of which are free.

If you are a business owner, it is important to make sure your security camera system is up to par, because imagine someone being able to track when you leave work, where you stash your money, and what your safe code is.

It is all critical information that you do not want to fall into the wrong hands.

Click here for step-by-step instructions on how you can disable your webcam.

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