Webcam safety with Jacqueline Jossa

Webcams make it possible for us to chat face to face with friends and family wherever we, or they, may be.

You could be in the next room to the other person or on the other side of the world, but the webcam allows you to talk as if you were face to face.

Now there are some risks attached to webcam use, but by following a few simple steps you can reduce the chances that you'll come to harm.

What is 'Ratting'?

Hackers are able to gain access to a victim's computers using a piece of malicious software (malware) called a Remote-Access Trojan (Rat) which infects the victim's computer or device with a virus. These are sometimes referred to more generally as remote access tools.

Many of these 'Rats' now include a function allowing a hacker to access the victim's webcam without their knowledge.

How secure is your webcam?

Web security

So how does a hacker get a virus into your computer or device? One way they can do this is by sending you an email with a link. If you receive an email from a stranger, think before clicking on a link or an attachment.

The risk of having your webcam hacked is also higher if you don't have up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer and other software is not kept up-to-date. So make sure you have the latest versions of security software on all your devices including tablets and smartphones.

Where is your webcam?

It is important to avoid putting webcams in private areas such as bedrooms. When webcams are not in use don't forget to unplug them, cover the lens or point it at a blank wall.

Making friends online

Think before you cam

Jacqueline Jossa at her laptop

More common-sense tips can be found in the Childnet video and webcam chat guides

If you use your webcam to communicate with people you meet online, it is important to consider how well you know them. If you are having a private conversation are you sure they are the only person who can see you?

Also consider whether there's a chance that they could be recording what you are saying or doing - you might not want them to post a video of your chat on a social network or share it using their mobile phone.

Remember, once it is out there you may never be able to delete all copies of it. It is against the law for someone to intrude on your privacy in this way and offenders can be prosecuted under the Computer Misuse Act.

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