Using a camera cover for your MacBook? Apple says it could damage your display if left on when closing laptop


  • Technology
  • Tuesday, 14 Jul 2020

If you're using a camera cover on your MacBook, Apples wants you to remove it before closing your laptop so you can avoid damaging the display. — AFP

Apple is urging MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro users to not close their laptops when the camera cover is still on as it may damage the display of their devices.

“If you close your Mac notebook with a camera cover installed, you might damage your display because the clearance between the display and keyboard is designed to very tight tolerances,” Apple said in a support page posted earlier this month.

It added that covering the camera could also interfere with the ambient light sensor, which may prevent features like automatic brightness and True Tone (a feature that makes images appear more natural on display) from working.

Apple suggested that users rely on the camera indicator light on their devices as “an alternative to a camera cover”.

When the camera indicator light is green, it means that the camera is active. The company added that users can also control which apps have access to the camera.

“Before any app can use your camera in macOS Mojave or later, you must first give it permission.”

The tech giant added that users can still rely on a camera cover if they want to, but that they must avoid using material that uses adhesives or leaves a sticky residue. The camera cover also has to be no thicker than 0.1mm, or as Apple described it, an “average piece of printer paper”.

“If you install a camera cover that is thicker than 0.1mm, remove the camera cover before closing your computer,” the company reiterated.

According to website ZDNet, there may have been an increase in the use of camera covers as more people are working and studying at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, it may have then led to an increase in Macbook users reporting issues with their display.

In the ZDNet report, an Apple repair technician described the issue as a “distinctive screen break” where affected users will see a glowing white line in the middle of their display.

The technician also told the website that the new Apple 16in Macbook Pro (priced from RM12,199 locally) has such thin bezels that if any foreign object gets in between the screen and body, then it could immediately break the display.

Why do people cover up their webcams?

Camera covers or privacy shutters are often used to cover the web camera on laptops for security reasons.

In 2016, The Guardian reported that security researchers believe hackers can spy on unsuspecting users through the webcam. It added that then-FBI director James Comey reportedly told an audience that he believes in putting a tape over his laptop's camera.

“I put a piece of tape over the camera because I saw somebody smarter than I am had a piece of tape over their camera,” Comey said in The Guardian report, likely referring to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Digital Spy reported in 2016 that Zuckerberg himself was likely a believer of the low-tech security method, as eagle-eyed netizens had spotted a piece of tape covering his laptop's webcam in the background of a photo he had posted of himself at work. In a separate report, the website stated that the most common way for hackers to gain access to webcams is though the use of Trojan horse malware.

According to AVG, users could end up with Trojan horse malware in their devices for various reasons, such as downloading items from unsafe websites.

The consequences of a hacked webcam could be severe for users. In April, CyberSecurity Malaysia stated in a Star report that there had been an increase in cybersex extortion during the movement control order period in Malaysia.

Scammers typically blackmail victims by claiming they have videos of the victims watching porn online after accessing their webcam, according to the report. A ZDnet report added that hackers could also use malware to remotely enable victims' webcams, without activating the camera status LED, to surreptitiously record them.

CyberSecurity Malaysia CEO Datuk Dr Amiruddin Abdul Wahab told The Star that victims should not respond to hackers as there it no guarantee that the threat will end.

Instead, victims are encouraged to report the any incidents related to cybersecurity to the Malaysia Computer Emergency Response Team's (MyCert) Cyber999 Help Centre.

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