Would you willingly invite a stranger into your bedroom while you're having sex or getting undressed, or into your bathroom while you're on the toilet? I assume the answer is 'No', but this could be the result if a cybercriminal were to hijack the camera on your mobile device.
Up to 90 per cent of UK adults now own a smartphone[ii]. Yet Kaspersky Lab research has shown that two-thirds of us are unaware that cybercriminals could use malware to take over our mobile device camera. This means that not only can they steal our private, stored images, but they can also take some really quite compromising photographs of their own. Not just of you, but snapshots of credit cards and pictures of your children playing with, or getting dressed in the presence of, a phone or tablet camera.
So just how much of our lives could be exposed to hackers through this 'window' into our world? A huge 83 per cent of us never turn our mobile phone off, unless the battery dies, yet over half of adults have sex within sight of a camera-enabled mobile phone, tablet, laptop or PC. A third of us even leave sensitive documents or payment cards near our devices. Worryingly, a quarter freely allow their children to play with them. Even if you think you are in the privacy of your own home, you may not be alone if there's a camera-enabled device in the room!
Among those who do understand the risks and take action, the measures used are often far from successful. For example, it is impossible to disconnect the camera function on a mobile phone or tablet, so just closing the icon or attempting to disable it is never enough. Maybe you are one of those who physically covers the camera with tape, a sticker or something else. This may work, but have you considered how many phones now have camera lenses on both sides? Also, if the lens gets sticky as a result, it may affect the quality of your photographs.
We think of our mobile devices as our window into the world, not realising that for cybercriminals it could be their window into ours. Hacking into a camera offers those with malicious intent access to our most intimate moments, our identities, and the people we want most to protect, such as our children.
People are often confused and unsure what to do, even when they are aware of the risks. Just one in three of those who had done anything to secure their device camera had opted for security software, the only really effective solution. No-one would leave their home this insecure, so we need to make sure we protect our devices, in order to protect ourselves.