Can hackers gain access to a webcam without turning the webcam on? Can this be done on Ubuntu?

  • just put a sticker on your notebook webcam ! by the way they do it with phone too...and what people forget ... sound cards ! – Froggiz Nov 9 '15 at 16:21
  • As any other device, you can disable the webcam – elsadek Nov 9 '15 at 19:11
  • Better safe than sorry! – Ave Nov 9 '15 at 20:31
  • Do you mean without you turning it on, or without them turning it on? The attacks they can perform without you turning it on are much more severe than what they can do if, for example, the webcam is unplugged and they can't turn it on. – user2357112 supports Monica Nov 9 '15 at 21:31

Yes, this can happen. This attack is typically targeted at MS Windows users.

The counter measure is, as usual, to have all your components up to date.

Note that the light of your webcam will be on, which is an indication of the attack (it is not possible to disable this functionality it may be possible to disable the light on older machines or specific configurations - thanks @silverpenguin for the comment).

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  • this is not 100% correct it is possible to not have the light turned on with certain MSF payloads – TheHidden Nov 9 '15 at 16:29
  • @silverpenguin: ah, this is very interesting - I read that this is strictly managed by the driver. I will search in MSF for payloads. – WoJ Nov 9 '15 at 16:31
  • you should look into NSA yahoo webcam, they did this also by using malware via yahoo ads i believe. (might not have the story 100% but I know it was yahoo and the light as off) – TheHidden Nov 9 '15 at 16:32
  • Reading the various articles, it seems that the attacks targets older machines (both Mac and PC). Even though the modern ones (as the webcams are directly wired to the bus) are less prone to that I will modify my answer to account for your comment, thanks. – WoJ Nov 9 '15 at 16:39
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    @MarkHulkalo: irrelevant maybe for you (this is not intended to be cynical - you are probably way more aware than the average user) - the vast majority of attacks are opportunistic and use unpatched flaws. – WoJ Nov 9 '15 at 17:03

Is it silly to cover my webcam?

It's not silly to cover your webcam if you don't want the "hacker" to know what you look like. But you'd better not have any pictures of yourself on your computer, or anything personal for that matter. They could probably find your name by keylogging/watching you trough a RAT, and if you have a facebook, they could look you up and find out what you look like anyway.

It's also not silly if you're engaging in, er, relations. Paranoia.

And you never know who could be watching, especially if they're able to bypass the webcam light icon. I personally keep a dud webcam on as part of an intrusion detection mechanism. If it's turned on, someone tried to access it. It's gone off a few times, and has helped me track down the culprit.

Can hackers and access to a webcam without turning webcam on

Not if there's a hardware on/off switch. The webcam must be physically turned on, unless you can turn on the webcam with software, but then it would have to be running to receive that signal anyway.

They can, however, activate the webcam and start viewing you, and anything within line of sight.

can they attack on Ubuntu(a GNU/Linux system)

If there are drivers for it, and their RAT supports this, then yes. But they probably can't easily turn it on if there's a hardware on/off switch.

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I could be wrong here, but drivers need to be installed for the webcam on the local machine in order to capture from it. If you don't use your webcam, uninstall the drivers.

Even better, don't let hackers in to your system!

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    hackers may as well install the drivers themselves – hytromo Nov 9 '15 at 20:00

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