A Scam That Made Me Just a Little Nervous - Island of Sanity

Island of Sanity


A Scam That Made Me Just a Little Nervous

I got an email from someone who claimed that he had hacked my laptop's camera AND had hacked my email address book. He said that he had video of me playing with myself while I watched porn, and that if I didn't give him lots of money, he would send this video to everyone in my email address list.

I hadn't been watching porn on the computer. And even if you counted some marginal things I'd looked at -- girls in bikinis and that sort of thing -- I certainly hadn't played with myself while watching. So my first impulse was to ignore the email as a scam. If he sent it to enough people, presumably some number of them HAD been playing with themselves while watching porn, and might be scared enough to pay.

But then second thought ... If he really did hack my laptop's camera, maybe he got video of me changing my clothes, and he could edit out a piece where I was "straightening myself" out while I put on underwear or something to make it look like I was playing with myself.

Third thought: No, my laptop is in the living room, and I don't change my clothes in the living room.

Fourth thought: But could there have been a time when I adjusted my underwear in the living room in front of the computer, or some such? And he edited this video to make it look like something else?

Ultimately I ignored the email and nothing happened, so it must have just been a scam. But it occurred to me that even the most innocent person could get justifiably nervous about just what someone with a camera in your house might catch you doing. And for most of us, such a threat could get you wondering, Did I do something questionable in front of the computer that he managed to catch on video?

There's a piece of poor security design in laptop cameras: Turning on the light and turning on the camera are two separate circuits. There's nothing to stop a programmer from turning on the camera and NOT turning on the light. Couldn't this have been done with a single wire that went through both the light and the camera, so that it would not be physically possible to turn one on without turning on the other? I suppose someone still might not notice the light come on, but at least there would be some warning. I've seen people put a piece of tape over the camera lens just to be safe. I saw a camera from a security company that has a plastic slide that goes over the lens, so close the slide and there's no way someone could hack the system and spy on you.

© 2024 by Jay Johansen


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