Your phone’s camera is a very sensitive part of your device. It is a very private function that can capture the most precious of moments in your life. It is sadly targeted by cyber criminals for a variety of uses.
A hacker can absolutely turn your camera using a variety of methods. Some include malware, spyware, spoofing, and impersonation. It’s important to learn how to protect yourself and your camera on your mobile device.
How Can a Hacker Access My Phone or Computer Camera?
There are a variety of ways hackers can get into your cameras. Be aware of these methods so you can prepare yourself and possibly avoid the risk.
A hacker can gain access to your cell phone or computer camera in several ways:
- Remote access software: A hacker can install remote access software on your device, allowing them to remotely control your camera and access the footage.
- Phishing scams: A hacker can trick you into providing access to your device’s camera through a phishing scam, such as an email or text message that appears to be from a legitimate source.
- Unsecured networks: If you connect to unsecured networks, such as public Wi-Fi, a hacker on the same network can potentially gain access to your device’s camera.
- Outdated software: If your device’s software or apps are not updated, they may contain security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers to gain access to your camera.
- Malware: A hacker can install malware on your device, which can give them access to your camera and other sensitive information.
To protect yourself from these types of attacks, it is important to use strong and unique passwords, be wary of unsolicited emails or messages, update your software and apps regularly, and be cautious when connecting to public Wi-Fi. Also, you can use some anti-malware software and be careful with the apps you download, as some apps can request unnecessary permissions that could compromise your device.
Cyber criminals can also infect the mobile apps we use every day with malware. There are also safe and dangerous app stores to download your utilities from.
How Do Cyber Criminals Infect Mobile Apps With Camera Malware?
Cyber criminals can infect mobile apps with camera malware in a few ways:
- Supply-chain attacks: This is when cybercriminals manipulate the code of legitimate apps and infect them with malware before they are distributed to the public.
- Malicious apps: Criminals can create fake apps that look legitimate, but are actually malware that can infect your device and gain access to your camera.
- Social engineering: Criminals can trick users into downloading malware-infected apps by disguising them as legitimate apps or by sending links to download the apps via phishing emails or text messages.
- App Repackaging : Cybercriminals can take an existing legitimate app and add malicious code to it, then distribute it as a new app to the users.
- Spyware: Cyber criminals will infect devices with spyware making it possible to view texts, contacts, photos, camera/mic data right back to the attacker.
To protect yourself, it’s important to only download apps from official app stores, such as the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, as these apps are more likely to be safe. Also, be careful with the apps you download and pay attention to their permissions, as some apps can request unnecessary permissions that could compromise your device.
It’s also a good idea to keep your device software updated, as updates often include security patches that fix vulnerabilities that can be exploited by malware. Furthermore, using a mobile security app can also help to detect and remove malware from your device.
What App Stores Should I Avoid For Safety Reasons?
For safety reasons, it’s best to avoid downloading apps from unofficial or third-party app stores, as these apps may not have been vetted for security and may contain malware or other malicious code. Some examples of these types of app stores include:
- Cydia: An alternative app store for jailbroken iOS devices that allows users to download apps and tweaks that are not available in the official Apple App Store.
- APKMirror: This is a website that allows users to download apk files of apps that are not available in official app stores.
- Aptoide: This is an independent app store that allows users to download apps for Android devices, which is not controlled by Google.
- Blackmart Alpha: This is another alternative app market for Android devices, it allows users to download paid apps for free
- There are many other alternative app stores that are not safe, it’s best to avoid them and stick to the official app stores from Apple, Google, and Microsoft, as these apps have been vetted for security and are less likely to contain malware or other malicious code.
Also worth noting is that downloading apps from untrusted sources can also put your device at risk of malware, as well as your personal information. Being aware of the app permissions is important as well. Some apps request intrusive permissions like camera and photo access.
How To Find The Permissions Of An App On The Play Store And App Store?
Follow these instructions to view the permissions in the Google Play Store:
- Open the Google Play Store app on your device
- Search for the app you’re interested in
- Select the app from the search results
- Scroll down to the “Additional Information” section of the app’s page
- Here you will see the “Permissions” section, which will list all the permissions the app requires in order to function.
To find the permissions of an app on the Apple App Store:
- Open the App Store app on your device
- Search for the app you’re interested in
- Select the app from the search results
- Scroll down to the “Information” section of the app’s page
- Here you will see the “App permissions” section which lists all the permissions the app requires in order to function.
It’s a good practice to check the permissions an app requests before downloading it, so you can have a better understanding of what the app will be able to access on your device. If you find any suspicious or irrelevant permissions you might want to consider not downloading the app or investigate more about it.
In this case, TikTok is a terrible choice for your device, it collect a lot of personal information about you and your device which is then harvested and analyzed by the China Communist Party (CCP). I thought Facebook and Instagram was bad until I researched TikTok.
There are also ways you can tell if your mobile device has been infected with mobile malware.
How To Tell If My Mobile Device Has Been Infected With Malware?
Here are some signs that may indicate that your mobile device has been infected with malware:
- Unusual pop-up ads or notifications: If you start seeing pop-up ads or notifications that you don’t remember signing up for, it could be a sign that your device is infected with malware.
- Battery drain: Malware can cause your device to work harder than usual, which can lead to a faster battery drain.
- Slow performance: Malware can slow down your device by taking up resources and causing your device to become unresponsive.
- Unfamiliar apps: If you notice apps installed on your device that you don’t remember downloading, it’s a possible sign that your device is infected with malware.
- Unusual data usage: If you notice an increase in your data usage, it could be a sign that malware is running in the background and using your data without your knowledge.
- Unusual phone bill: if you notice any unexpected charges on your phone bill, it could be a sign of malware infection.
- Unexpected behavior: if your device starts behaving in an unexpected way or if you start experiencing strange events such as your device shutting down on its own, it could be a sign of malware infection.
It’s important to note that not all malware will exhibit these symptoms, and some may be more stealthy and harder to detect. But if you suspect that your device is infected with malware, you should run a scan with a reputable mobile security app, and consider factory resetting your device as a last resort.
Hopefully it won’t come to this but it is a very real possibility. Make sure you backup your data with secure cloud or physical storage before resetting the device. Luckily there are ways you can protect yourself from mobile threats!
How Can I Protect Myself From Mobile Cyber Threats?
- Keep your device and apps updated: Regularly updating your device’s operating system and apps can help protect you from known security vulnerabilities.
- Use a mobile security app: A mobile security app can help protect you from malware, phishing attempts, and other cyber threats. It can also help you locate your device if it’s lost or stolen.
- Be cautious of suspicious links and attachments: Don’t click on links or open attachments from unknown sources, as they could be used to spread malware or steal personal information.
- Use a lock screen password: Setting a lock screen password can help protect your device from unauthorized access if it’s lost or stolen.
- Use two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication can provide an additional layer of security by requiring a second form of authentication, such as a fingerprint or a code sent to your phone, in addition to your password.
- Be aware of Public Wi-Fi: Avoid accessing sensitive information when connected to Public Wi-Fi networks as they are not secure and can be easily hacked.
- Be careful with permissions: Before installing an app, carefully review the permissions it requests and only grant the necessary ones.
- Back up your data: Regularly backing up important data can help you restore it in case your device is lost, stolen, or infected with malware.
By following these best practices, you can help protect yourself from mobile cyber threats and keep your personal information safe.