Beware: Research shows how MacBook Webcams can spy on their users without warning

Apparently, there’s a way for hackers to spy on people via their iSight Webcams in older Apple MacBooks.

iSight camera

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found a security vulnerability in Macs  released before 2008 that would allow a hacker to surreptitiously take pictures or videos of users via those devices’ built in webcams. The webcams on iMacs and MacBook laptops from that era — like those of today — have an LED light that’s supposed to illuminate when their cameras are in use. But the security flaw allows hackers to activate the camera without turning on the light.

In October, Jared Abrahams, a 19-year-old Southern California resident, pleaded guilty to an extortion scheme in which he secretly took pictures — many of them nudes — of at least 12 different women. Abrahams took the pictures with the women’s own webcams. According to one of the victims, Cassidy Wolf, a former Miss Teen USA winner, the pictures were taken without the warning light ever being activated.

This is not the first time someone has been remotely spied on with a Webcam, but it is the first known time that it’s been done without the warning light being triggered.
The researchers said that while they notified Apple of the vulnerabilty, the company hasn’t said how it might address it.

Beware: Research shows how MacBook Webcams can spy on their users without warning