Macbook Camera Faces Remote Threat

Big Brother is watching you…literally.

Today it was reported by SlashGear that the perpetrator of one of the first sextortion cases in history was apprehended in California. By utilizing the iSight camera on a Macbook Pro, Jared Abraham was able to secretly record and archive pictures and videos of one of the most sought after women in the national eye.

In the high-profile case, Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf was part of a new breed of hacking scheme, creatively called “sextortion” by the media, wherein secret pictures are taken of the victim while they are unaware their camera is running, and they are contacted by a third party demanding a ransom to keep the candid shots under wraps.

Until now, Apple has been adamant that all webcams and digital cameras on Macbooks, Macbook Pros, and iMacs can not be activated without the ubiquitous green LED light notifying you that the current user and their background environment is being recorded.

The technology required to achieve this veil of secrecy was supposedly impossible, according to Apple when they first rolled out their now famous PhotoBooth application with the built in webcams. Utilizing a hardware switch that was wired directly to the camera, one would not be able to function without the other getting a default electrical signal to turn itself on and warn the user that the camera was active.

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However, by coding around this logic board the 19-year old hacker was able to record detailed pictures of the Miss Universe contestant, and did so over a period of several months back in 2012.

If you’re afraid someone might be watching you without your knowledge, there are two things you can do. First, a small piece of electrical tape placed in front of the webcam is a surefire way to black out all light and images from being captured.

Secondly, utilizing a VPN on OSX is the safest and most effective method of being sure that no one ever gains access to your computer in the first place, essentially cutting off the problem at its source before it ever gets a chance to become something worse.