Sep 23, 2022

Put Tape Over Your Webcam!

Here’s my hint of the day (or week or month or whatever… there’s really no timeframe for this): Put tape or something else over the webcam on your computer. Or Amazon Show. Or any other device capable of sending video.

It doesn’t really have to be tape. It could be a sticky note, or a business card, a sticker of some sort, or a dab of peanut butter. Your choice.

If you have children or grandchildren in your house frequently, this article is doubly important to you. The methodology may vary but the underlying principal remains the same: stop your webcam from being on all the time (or ever).

Hackers, government agents, and teenagers can, and do, use easily accessible tools and phishing techniques to hijack webcams of unsuspecting people, often who they know, and watch them through their camera. They can store images and videos of people in compromising situations in their bedrooms, and many of these images and videos are uploaded to shady websites. A slew of news stories in the past few years have revealed that what was once considered paranoia is now an uncomfortable frequent reality.

If you really want to get fancy, you can purchase the CloudValley Webcam Cover Slide.

It is designed primarily for laptops but, with a bit of imagination, I suspect it can be applied to other computers. (A bit of tape should do it.) These cost $6.99 for package of 2 on Amazon (go to Amazon and search for “CloudValley Webcam Cover Slide.”) You can then block or unblock your webcam within a second or two by simply sliding it with your finger.

If you don’t have a laptop, you can choose from dozens of other webcam blockers both on Amazon and probably any other computer retailer.

I was especially pleased to notice that most all Amazon Show devices (“Hey! Alexa”) have built-in covers that slide over the webcam in a second or two. I have one of these in every room of my house (OK, so I admit I am a nerd) and the Amazon Show devices in my bathrooms and bedrooms all have the cover in place all the time. If I am chatting with someone and want to enable video, it only takes a second or so to slide the cover off. I use this to talk with my grandchildren who live about 1,000 miles from me.

This prevents me from displaying “more of me than I really wanted to show.”

Regardless of which devices you have in your home, your rule of thumb should be “If it is capable of sending video, that video should also be blocked when not being used.”

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