The real likelihood you’re being watched through your laptop camera

In our tech-driven world, it’s now obvious that our privacy can be easily compromised. If hackers can penetrate the White House, they can likely crack our personal devices. And yet we still use our phones, laptops, tablets, and more, as if that threat doesn’t exist. But can we really afford to ignore it?

If you have a modern device capable of getting online, chances are that it has a camera. And if so, there’s a probability that someone is looking for money or a glance at your intimate moments. Such driving factors have made way for a thriving black market for compromised webcams and the videos or photos they can produce. That’s why you may have heard the suggestion to protect yourself by taping over your computer camera and other devices with cameras.

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9 Hotel Scams and Annoying Fees to Watch Out for
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9 Hotel Scams and Annoying Fees to Watch Out for
After you check in, the room phone rings, allegedly from the front desk. There's a problem with your credit card, the operator says, please give me the account numbers again. To pull it off, all a criminal has to do is trick their way through a hotel switchboard and catch a patron in the room. If you get a call like this, hang up, call the operator, and ask if there's a problem. That's a good habit at home, too. Hang up and call back. If there's really a problem, don't reveal your number over the phone. Just walk back to the front desk.
"You find a pizza delivery flyer slipped under your hotel door," the FTC says. "You call to order, and they take your credit card number over the phone. But the flyer is a fake, and a scammer now has your info." I've not seen widespread incidence of this. it would be pretty brazen for ID thieves to physically walk around hotel hallways, where cameras might be used to identify them. Still, the same principal applies. Use a smartphone to double-check the phone number you see on any flyer placed in your room before you order pizza.
The single easiest way for a hacker to hijack your computer is to set up a rogue hot spot and trick you into connecting to it. "Oh, free WiFi," you think. While that's a very real problem, it's also not terribly likely in a hotel room. After all, to be close enough to pull it off, the criminal's technology would in most cases have to be inside the hotel. That's a risky proposition. On the other hand, you might be visiting a lot of strange coffee shops on the road, where rogue Wi-Fi is a more likely possibility. It's always smart to double-check the safety of the networks you connect to, however. It might be wise to stick with your smartphone's connectivity, if that's possible.
The more expensive the hotel, the more likely you will be charged a hefty Wi-Fi fee of $10-$15 per day. The new trick I've seen lately is for hotels to offer "free" Wi-Fi in the lobby but charge for access in the room. Best way to avoid that fee? Before you leave, make sure you know how to use your smartphone for broadband access.
Hotels have a love-hate relationship with websites like Priceline (PCLN) or Expedia, which help them fill rooms,but systematically put downward price pressure on their inventory. Extra fees, added at check-in, are the hotels' way around this problem. Many folks pay online, only to find there's additional charges when they arrive at the hotel. Resort fees are often the biggest culprit. As the name suggests, this fee is most prevalent in restort-y places like Las Vegas. 
Hotels like charging to clean your room now, as if that's not included in the price. The worst part of the housekeeping fee: Often, housekeepers don't get any of the money.
More hotels are embracing travelers with pets, and they're charge $10 to $100 for allowing a pet in your room. If you use a site like Expedia to sort through pet-friendly hotels, make sure you manually check the fee. Not all pet-friendly hotels are created equal.
This one bugs me. Some hotels put a safe fee on your bill, even if you never use the safe. You can ask that it be removed. Same for the newspaper fee.
Finally, gone are the days when hotels could be canceled by 6 p.m. on the night of a reservation for a full refund. Cancellation policies are all over the map now and can even vary based on how the reservation was initially made. Never book a hotel without knowing what the cost of a breakup would be. Travel always involves adventure, which involves unpredictability, which means plans change. Make sure you plan for that.
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The tip is not based simply on paranoia. In 2014, the FBI ran its largest cyber operation to date, in which scores of webcam hackers in more than 12 countries were arrested. The program, called Blackshades, gave users access to “photographs and other files on the victim’s computer and a record all of the keystrokes entered on the victim’s keyboard,” according to a report. It allowed them to steal passwords to the victims’ online accounts, and even activate the victim’s web camera to spy on them, all in secret. Here are 9 reasons your password is going to get you hacked.

And that’s just one vindictive tool that hackers have used on computers around the world. Apparently, there’s some evidence to suggest that the FBI has also hacked into people’s computers in order to access their webcams for surveillance. Reader's DigestHow to Not Get HackedStay safe on the Internet. Keep hackers at bay with these protective actions.

Many Internet-connected webcams have their own IP address to permit remote access, which lets you connect directly to the webcam from anywhere in the world. However, if your camera is not protected by a strong password (which many of them aren’t), it makes it all that much easier for hackers to infiltrate. Make sure you don’t use these password recovery questions that are insanely easy to hack.

As for computer-connected webcams, hackers can use malware to access the cameras. This can happen when you accidentally click a bad link or download a sinister file.

“I’m quite confident that my own computer is not infected by malware—yet,” says Mikko Hermanni Hyppönen, a computer security expert and columnist who has assisted law enforcement in the United States, Europe, and Asia since the 1990s on cybercrime cases. “I cover my camera just in case, and to set an example. It’s not a bad idea.”

Chief Research Officer at F-Secure, a cybersecurity and privacy company based in Helsinki, Finland, Hyppönen is known for taking down the Sobig Worm in August of 2003, a computer worm that infected millions of Internet-connected, Microsoft Windows computers.

“There are plenty of trojans out there that can spy on you via your computer’s camera. We’ve even seen criminals ask money from people after they have collected embarrassing pictures of them via webcam,” he says.

It seems safe to say that, if you don’t want people watching your every move—especially without your permission and when you don’t know it—the only way to protect yourself in terms of your technology is to cover up the camera when not in use. And frankly, it really can’t hurt. It’s just a piece of tape. Here are more ways to make sure your computer doesn’t get hacked.

The post The Real Likelihood You’re Being Watched Through Your Laptop Camera appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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13 Things That Seem Like Scams But Are Actually Great
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13 Things That Seem Like Scams But Are Actually Great
The site lets you know when movie screenings are happening so you can score free tickets.
The yellow cleaning spray named "Awesome" from the dollar store evidently lives up to its name. The guy who recommended it said that it really should be priced higher and he's never used it without gloves.

The dollar store toilet bowl cleaner named The Works is so strong it can etch concrete.
The cellphone company is designed to save you a bunch of money on your plan if you switch away from a major carrier.

This guy loves it: I seriously only pay $45 a month for unlimited everything for my Google Nexus 4 and also get great service since I have a AT&T compatible SIM card with them. Basically my service runs off of AT&T towers just without me having to pay $100 a month. It is cheap, and in the long run saves you a lot of money.

These seem like a clever ploy by Big Detergent to force you to spend more on rebranded soap.


Well, as it turns out they actually really work out well. Almost everyone uses a little too much detergent in their wash, but these little pods actually do the trick.

When one guy's friend hit a deer and had to unload his totaled car, JunkMyCar.com offered nearly six times as much for the Camry than local junkyards:

Submitted the request online, guy came out (to him) a day or two later with a truck, looked the car over to make sure everything checked out with the specs he submitted, handed him a check, and left with the car. Check cleared with no issues.

My guess is that they can give such a higher premium because they scrap the car and sell the parts online, so they'll have a much higher turnaround. Either that or it's some really eccentric millionaire finding new ways to pass the time.
I can personally confirm that Linux is awesome.

Here's why: "You mean I can get a fully-functional operating system for free, just download it off the website, and it's faster, more secure and easier than Windows? And it has thousands of free programs with it? And they're offering more and more games that often play better on Linux than Windows? Sure , whatever...."
But it's true!
It's a neoprene jacket you put on animals to reduce anxiety. It accomplishes this by gently squeezing them all over.

Got it for my frenchie who was going through anxiety after we moved, and it totally works on the short term and on the long term.

This pet comb really works: Furminator brush, a metal comb with tapered grooves that removes undercoat and reduces shedding. It's not a surprise it works, but how well it works. The ad photo with the husky surrounded by a giant pile of fur is exactly what happens.

Another endorsement: Bought a furminator yesterday and felt like a dumbass for spending $45 on a damn cat brush. Then I had a pile of fur twice the size of my cat.

Photo: sundaykofax, Flickr.com and _Tar0_, Flickr.com

Several people swear by this blender. The issue is that it's sold through infomercials which instantly sets off everyone's B.S. alarm.
You know those ads on television for sites offering free credit reports? Don't use those websites.
Congress made the credit report companies provide people with one free credit report per year, so they did that with AnnualCreditReport.com, but then made several easily confusable clones that charged money.

Here's the explanation: Annualcreditreport.com is run by the U.S. government and is designed to comply with the law requiring credit bureaus to give you your reports for free every so often.

Freecreditreport.com and sites like it are businesses who charge you money for these same services (or require that you bundle pay services with the free service of getting your report) [...] they're preying on the people who were trying to get their free report and just went to the wrong web address.

It's 100% Congressionally-mandated legitimacy. Check it out: AnnualCreditReport.com.
We're talking about Mr. Clean Magic Eraser kind of products. It perfectly breaks down any kind of material from very fine cracks and textures.

People use these on white sneakers to wild success, and one Redditor cleaned a horrifying tub in a new apartment to the point it looked like new. One guy used a similar product, Barkeeper's Friend, to get a sharpie'd genital off of his fridge.

RainX is the stuff you spread apply to your windshield that repels rain, meaning that you don't actually have to use your windshield wipers.

Here's one Redditor's endorsement: First, it will last a lot longer than a few days if you follow the directions to a tee. If it's at all cool air temps when you apply it, turn on your defroster for a while to heat up the window. Helps a lot. When you get up to speeds that make the rain "skitter" off the windshield, stop using the wipers; this speed will vary depending on the angle of your window. [...]

Photo: Kjarrett, Flickr.com
Lastly, I've heard Aquapel makes Rain‑X appear as though a drunken monkey had smeared feces over your window in comparison. I can't personally speak to this, as I cannot afford Aquapel.  Sounds fun.

Sold by the late but legendary pitchman Billy Mays, the sodium percarbonate cleaning product is actually really, really good at cleaning anything.

Granted, you can get the same chemical off-brand at a pool supply store for a fifth of the price, but the stuff just annihilates stains.
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