Big Smile No Teeth

Published: Sunday April 20, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday April 21, 2014 MYT 7:56:41 PM

Worried about webcams

Who’s watching? Apparently, hacking a webcam is pretty easy, so lay off the embarrassing behaviour in front of one. Even one that’s not turned on. — File photo

Who’s watching? Apparently, hacking a webcam is pretty easy, so lay off the embarrassing behaviour in front of one. Even one that’s not turned on. — File photo

Have you ever left your webcam on and watched yourself working on your computer? Do you think the world would want to watch that?

WHEN 19-year-old Miss Teen USA 2013 Cassidy Wolf received nude photos of herself in an e-mail from a stranger, she threw her phone across the room and screamed in horror.

“I felt like I was in a horror movie,” she was quoted as saying.

The photos were accompanied with a threat: if she didn’t do what the extortionist wanted he would post her nude photos all over the Internet and her “dreams of becoming a model will be transformed into a porn star”.

Now, beside the horrifying sentence structure that threatened to turn this poor girl’s dreams into an adult movie performer – which just makes zero sense – what is most scary is that these nude photos were taken via Wolf’s own webcam.

Her computer webcam had been hacked and the photos taken as she had come out of the shower.

Cassidy Wolf had been camjacked. Or camfected. The phenomenon is so new that the Internet hasn’t really decided on a punchy name yet.

Camjacking, or whatever you like to call it, has been in and out of the news recently as reports have come in that the FBI has had the ability to hack webcams and even bypass the mechanism that turns on that little “on air” light for the past four years. It seems safe to assume the FBI has had this ability for a while if a teenager lacking adequate grammatical skills could camfect a beauty queen’s webcam.

But this is horrifying news for, well, basically everyone. In the modern world, we sit all day in front of laptops with built-in webcams; our smartphones, even our consoles, have webcams and all of it can be used to watch us at any given time.

The news that every single webcam is a potential spy cam, watching us in our most intimate and private moments is completely terrifying in an Orwellian sort of way ... until you really think about it.

Have you ever left your webcam on and watched yourself while you’re on your computer? It’s not exactly like watching Marvel’s Avengers.

You look terrible on your webcam. It’s not your fault, we all do.

Usually it’s quite dark, the light casting dark circles under your eyes as you stare dead-eyed at your screen, occasionally stopping to pick your nose or scratch your ear. Law enforcement aside – and they’re not camfectjacking you unless you’ve given them decent reason – I’m not sure that’s a feed that a random hacker can watch for longer than 25 seconds.

I’ve spent the better part of the past two weeks stuck to my laptop, so anyone who camjackfected my stuff would have had a direct feed to my inner lair. The bad news is that, as I struggled to write, they would have been treated to a bleary- eyed, often obscenity-spewing, unshowered individual who only moved to pull out clumps of his own hair.

Wait, that sort of self-destruction could be half way entertaining.... But I’m giving myself too much credit. Mostly, I sit leaning on my headrest, staring dead-eyed at the screen.

But the point is, what kind of loser has the time to spend jackcamfecting random people’s webcams? Can you imagine the hours and hours of people staring at their screens or vacuuming their rugs in the distance that they would have to sit through?

Cassidy Wolf’s fectcamjacker was probably a decently intelligent guy who had turned his brain to mashed potatoes while watching countless cams before unfortunate Miss Wolf decided to walk out of the shower in front of her camera. Seriously, that’s the only way someone could spend hours methodically monitoring webcams, finally finding what he wants, and then screw up the extortion note in epic fashion threatening to transform dreams into porn stars.

They did manage to catch Jared Abrahams, the patient if not so clever writer who blackmailed Miss Wolf, so this particular camfector isn’t threatening to take unflattering photos of any of us with bedhead or our fingers up our nostrils. So that’s good news.

The bad news is, hacking a webcam is apparently pretty easy business, so for those of you who actually do interesting things in front of your computer, I’ll leave you with a potentially mind blowing one-word solution that will counter with 100% effectiveness any hacker’s attempts to camfecterly jackercam your webcam no matter how bad their grammar may be: Tape.

Jason Godfrey can be seen hosting The LINK on Life Inspired (Astro B.yond Ch 728).

Tags / Keywords: Opinion, Lifestyle, Column, Big Smile, No Teeth, Jason Godfrey, webcam, hacking, camjacking

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