What is the likelihood that my webcam, Oovoo or Skype got hacked?

Anonymous June 12, 2014
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I am a very, very modest and paranoid 22 year old girl. From ages 17 to 19 I was in a relationship that became long distance. Over the course of the relationship he and I would Skype or Oovoo and some of these times I would be without clothing in front of the camera.

Since the news of webcam hacking came to light in 2012, I have covered the lens on that laptop as well as my new one. However, I cannot shake the horrible feeling that there’s a chance (any chance) that someone could have seen me back then. I am an incredibly private person and this has been driving me insane. I’m actually a Computer engineering major and I understand the basic likelihood myself but would also like to hear your opinion (and be able to put my mind at ease).

On the laptop I am concerned about, it was a 2010 Toshiba Satellite with built-in webcam. I used it either on my home network or school network and had a free anti virus program running the entire time. I never experienced any clues that I can recall (the webcam light never randomly came on, no virus alerts, no other questionable behavior) and, unlike many of my peers, I never illegally downloaded, watched, or attempted to download or watch movies, TV, or music. I also didn’t get a ton of spam emails back then and then ones I did get, I always just simply deleted.

I don’t fully understand every way a webcam can be hacked and am hoping it was more difficult and less prolific 2011 and earlier. What concerns me is people saying young women are targeted and the fact that I was in a long distance relationship. How likely is it that someone during that time saw me without clothing either through hacking my webcam or somehow infiltrating my Skype or Oovoo sessions?

  1. Mark P
    June 13, 2014 at 1:38 am

    As long as you never had any virus notifications pop up, Or if malwarebytes antimalware scan hasn't found any, I think its pretty highly unlikely that you were hacked. To put your mind at ease though, I'd make it a weekly habit to run a malware scan, as that can detect most of the tools used by those who hack into webcams.

  2. Jan F
    June 12, 2014 at 10:04 am

    While technically possible I think it is highly unlikely. Why would someone hack YOUR webcam, Oovoo, or Skype conversation? Unless you really upset someone who is skilled enough to do so no one is interested in "your" stuff (no offense).

    Yes, there are people out there who have fun hacking e.g. peoples Facebook accounts to see if "that girl" has some nice private shared pictures uploaded. But thats about it.

    The best suggestion I can make is not to worry about it now.

    If it did happen, then you can't change it. As they say "what goes on the internet stays on the internet". As long as it is not interfering with your everyday life, don't waste time thinking about it.

  3. Alyce C
    June 12, 2014 at 8:51 am

    I don't think that must have happened ever in your past, coz if it would have then someone must have definitely tried to use them against you someway or the other back then, which never happened in your case (I am assuming). So relax and don't worry, its all history now.

  4. Oron J
    June 12, 2014 at 8:47 am

    No one can tell you what the likelihood of being hacked are. Covering the camera is a very reasonable precaution (in fact, I wish all webcams had shutters as extra security!). If you are still concerned, there are two things you can do:

    • Find out which processes are using your webcam as explained in this Lifehacker article. This of course will only show anything up if a program is accessing the webcam at the time.
    • Rebuild your PC.

    Personally, I feel that covering the webcam is good enough, but it's really your call to make.