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SophosLabs – Hackers Infringing User Privacy via Spycams

Security researchers at SophosLabs have asked web camera users to be careful while online as hackers are exploiting them (webcams) to keep an eye on Internet users' activities.

The security firm has cited several examples to make its observations more clear and true. Among these, the most prominent one was imprisonment of 47-year-old man for spying a 17-year-old girl through webcam and threatening her. The man was arrested in 2005 for implanting a Trojan on the teenager's computer. Actually, he had sent an e-mail embedded with the Trojan that acquired control of her webcam. He was arrested when he tried to blackmail the teenager into posing nude and the girl contacted the police.

SophosLabs has given one more example to prove its observations true. It said that a man in Spain had noticed his victim's activities for over three years after discovering that her webcam equipped computer had been infected by a Trojan horse. The female came to know of this spying activity when she received some of her own pictures sent by him accidently.

Another eye opening example given by SophosLabs is of Adrian Ringland, who was sentenced 10-year imprisonment in 2006. Ringland, a resident of Ilkeston, Derbyshire (Britain), posed as a minor in chat rooms and secretly implanted malware on young girls' computers. Most of the members of chat rooms opened the picture sent by him thinking that they were viewing new online friend but Ringland attached spyware with it to take control of their systems in order to capture their obscene pictures.

Graham Cluley, Senior Technology Consultant, Sophos, said that most of the spyware programs were installed to grab computer users' identity, banking information and password. Mere installation of a Trojan program gave complete control of a webcam, as reported by theinquirer.net on September 1, 2009.

Since software that enable remote access to webcam are freely available on the Internet, supposedly for a range of legitimate purposes like checking offices and home, generally by the vendors for marketing purposes, security experts suggest that buyers should ensure their legitimacy before purchasing these software.

Related article: SophosLabs Discovers phishing Scam Against ANZ Bank

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