Am I being watched through my Computer webcam? Is this a question that is troubling you? Well, most offices, IT people keep on sniffing the data packets on the network to see what is going on in the network. Some admins go to the extent of installing sniffing software on individual computers so that they keep getting screenshots of what you are doing. In the case of personal computers and BYOD too, it is easy to reconstruct what you were doing, using a set of software tools. This article tells you if you are being watched on your computer or tablet and then provides some tips to avoid being watched or monitored.
Am I being watched through my computer?
It is not easy to tell, but in an office network, often the IT staff checks out packets originating from your computer or tablet and analyzes them to see what you are up to. If the data requests (downloads) become too high, the admins will know you are actively surfing or downloading something. In that case, they can simply check in the incoming packets and know what is going on your computer or tablet. In short, if you are connected to the network, there is a high probability that you are being watched through your own computer.
If it is a personal computer or tablet connected to the office network, then too, it is probable that you may be being watched.
Coming to private networks, you cannot be sure if you are being watched by some hacker. If you have not been taking ample security measures to keep your device safe, then this possibility cannot be ruled out.
For example, using Remote Access Technology (RAT), hackers could have compromised your system and may be watching you using your own webcam! That sounds creepy, but it has happened to many.
There are three methods to know if you are being watched:
- The mouse cursor is active without you touching any input device
- The screen of the computer keeps blinking at regular intervals
- There is a process in the Task Manager that suggests some sort of hack activity
While the first two are easy to notice, you may have to work on the third method. Most processes in the Task Manager window are known to a technical person. And for the processes that are not recognized, he or she may search to know more about that process. Likewise a layman, too, can search, but it will take a good amount of time to research all processes.
But if you have a suspicion that you are being monitored, it is better to make sure by checking out all the processes in the Task Manager, especially if you are at home, using your own network instead of the office network.
TIP: Prevent Webcam Hacking attacks with Who Stalks My Cam software.
How to avoid being watched online
There are some simple methods to avoid being watched out of which, the best is to use a proxy such as UltraSurf or a VPN such as SpotFlux. But then, if the officials at the IT department do not see any data from your computer, the levels of their suspicions may increase, leading them to personally check out what you are doing on the computer by coming to your workstation.
I will suggest keeping office work and private work different so that you do not have to use the office hours or the office network for personal work. A little bit of personal work at the office is okay, but if you are spending too much time on Facebook or Twitter, you may get a bad record which will backfire in some or the other way.
VPNs and Proxies are a strict no for use at the office unless you have a good reason for it and that you are to use them for a very brief period of time. But if it is your personal network, at home or office, you may use VPN to avoid being watched. VPNs create a private channel from your computer to the VPN service providers’ servers, so the IT people or the hackers will not be able to know what you are doing.
Again, if the case is hackers, you would want to fix it permanently instead of just using a VPN. In the case of a hack, the best method is to format and reinstall everything so that any RAT software is removed. If you are suspicious and are not sure, check out the processes in the Task Manager and if you find anything that cannot be explained or is suspicious, simply format the system drive and reinstall the OS and programs. That way, you will get rid of Remote Access Technology (RAT). After that, use a VPN to avoid being watched by your ISP and government agencies.
If you do not use your integrated camera, you might as well disable the webcam. If you are worried about Windows PC being monitored by someone else, have a look at Detekt, a free anti-surveillance spyware scanner for Windows.
Windows users must install a good security software. The can also turn off Windows Remote Access using the Control Panel > System > Remote Settings, if they do not use or need it. If you do not feel the need for a Remote Administration Tool software and want to protect your computer, you start with unchecking the Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer under Remote in System Properties dialog box that appears when you right-click Computer icon and then select Properties from the resulting context menu. You may also check the Don’t allow connections to this computer. Turning off Remote Access will help a little more in securing your privacy.
Find out which app is using the web camera.