BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — Webcams can be a good tool to help you connect with friends online, but if you're not careful it can be a tool for crooks too.
"It can be used against you if a program is downloaded on your computer with or without your knowledge, and then it can be used to spy on you," Liz Black, tech consultant with Computer Heaven, said.
Black explained bad guys can use software to sneak onto your computer and get control of your camera.
"... If you're on the internet, and they have a program that can get into your computer. If it gets on there then they can remotely access you're computer from anywhere in the world," Black said. "They could be in another country and be watching you and you don't know it."
According to a CNN report federal officials are cracking down on this type of cyber crime, and the use of 'BlackShades' remote access tool a software program hackers use to get into people's computers.
"The threat posed by BlackShades was far-reaching and it was global. Our investigation revealed that over the past four years, the BlackShades RAT was purchased by users in over 100 countries, infecting more than half a million computers," Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Monday.
Even miss teen usa was a victim. A hacker used her web cam to get pictures of the beauty queen.
Experts say there are things you can do to make your computer safer like keeping your firewall up to date.
"Another thing you can do of course is make sure your antivirus is completely up to date. And, then have other types of anti-spyware programs on your computer," Black said.
If you're tech savvy and don't need to use your webcam Black said you can actually disable your web cam in your computer settings. There is also low tech solution. Black said you can cover your webcam with a piece of tape.
Black said it can be difficult for people to know if their web cam is affected. However, she said, "If your camera light on your web cam is constantly flashing and you're not even using it then it could be there is a program running on your computer."