How to protect your gadgets against cyber attacks

Mar 15, 2014, 11:50 IST | Agencies

Here's how you can keep the NSA or hackers from spying through your mobile phones and computers 

NEW YORK: We all know that laptops, desktop, tablets and mobile phones are all at risk of being hacked. But are you aware of the lesser-known grave threat? There is every possibility that intruders or hackers might use the built-in camera of your device to take pictures and videos of you and your surroundings or hijack your microphone to eavesdrop on conversations.

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The latest story from the Edward Snowden leaks claims that the NSA and its spy partners possess specialised tools for doing exactly that. As per reports published by an online news portal, the NSA uses a plug-in called GUMFISH to take over cameras on infected gadgets and snap photos.

Another plug-in, CAPTIVATEDAUDIENCE, hijacks microphone on targeted computers to record conversations.

Intelligence agencies have been turning computers into listening devices for the last 10 years, as evidenced by the Flame spy tool uncovered by Kaspersky Lab in 2012. The tool is capable of switching on webcams and microphones, without users’ knowledge, and performs a host of other espionage operations. Researchers believe that Flame has been around since 2007.

But it is not just the NSA, even cyber criminals, sextortionists, law enforcement and school districts, have been doing this kind of spying for years now.

Spy tools, whether designed by intelligence agencies, cyber crooks or internet creeps, can turn your camera on without illuminating the indicator light. Naturally, there are even online tutorials available to instruct neophyte hackers on how to takeover your webcam.

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