Is your computer spying on you? If it has a webcam, you may be surprised at easy it is to remotely enable it and have it send pictures.
Years ago, I saw a news segment where a reporter showed how a user could be tricked into installing an application that allowed someone to remotely enable the computer’s webcam. Since then, I’ve always covered my computer webcams. Of course, I’m also very careful about what I install on computers.
Unfortunately, just being careful about what you install on your computer no longer seems to be enough. As an example, I’ve recently seen the following error pop up occasionally:
“Microsoft Edge Content Process is trying to access your webcam.”
A similar message appeared less frequently indicating a Chrome process was trying to access the webcam.
Why is my Computer Spying on Me?
Still, one thing is clear. Unless you take steps to block this access, malicious hackers may be able to spy on you through your computer. Even though my webcam was covered, log messages made it clear that some processes were accessing my camera without my permission.
How to Prevent the Spying
Use these steps to change the overall settings for the camera and microphone in Windows 10.
- Click Start, enter Privacy and select Privacy settings.
- In Settings, select Camera.
- Click Change.
- Press the toggle button to turn the camera off.
- Select Microphone (right under camera).
- Repeat the same steps to turn the microphone off.
If you only want to allow access to the camera and microphone for specific apps (such as Skype), you can do so. Leave overall access on and scroll down to the apps section. Select Off for all apps except for the ones you specifically want to access the camera and microphone.
Use these steps to change the settings for the camera and microphone within Google Chrome.
- Open an instance of Google Chrome.
- Click on the button to customize and control Google Chrome.
- Select Settings.
- Scroll down and select Advanced
- In the Privacy and security section, select Site Settings.
- Under Permissions, select Camera.
- Click the button next to Ask before accessing (recommended). It will change to Blocked.
Note: While I had this setting enabled to Ask before accessing (recommended) originally, logs showed that Google Chrome allowed access to the camera without requesting permission.
You can take the steps in this post to block access to your webcam and microphone. This will prevent malicious hackers from being able to spy on you through your computer.