Forget the Firewall, This Tape Is a Lifesaver

Picture of By Pritha Ray

By Pritha Ray

It’s no surprise today to see laptops around with their webcams covered with stickers, tape, or sliding webcam cover gadgets, which apparently is also a thing nowadays. And of course, the main premise here is to prevent hackers, strangers, and weirdos from looking into your personal lives through the cameras on our most used devices, but how much do we really understand of what we’re trying to hide from?

Rising Panic

To say our world today is almost plagued with inventions and nifty creations is not much of a stretch. Now whether all these wonderful creations are as great as we think they are is up to the eye of the beholder, but when some of it is being used to scour the internet and possibly barge into our very personal lives through things we take for granted every day is a bit scary to think about, if not terrifying. 

Technology today has reached new heights of computational power that we all love and desperately need to survive in this digital era, however, the idea of ‘more for nothing in return’ seems a bit too illusory. Economics would say that the idea of getting something for nothing to give in return is downright ridiculous. Therefore making out the truth that the more we succumb to the internet, the more we unwillingly compromise our privacy.

The whole panic behind webcam spying started years ago and has led to almost a ritualistic routine for people to instinctively slide that piece of tape over their webcams after they’re done using it.

It feels ironic to think we feel the need to hide something that was the very thing made to showcase our lives to everyone.

The precautions we take today are also heavy-handed but necessary in retrospect. We have firewalls, spy detection software, virus checkers, and much newer, stronger, and faster technologies coming up. So it’s funny to think how much trust we have come to put over a piece of tape in comparison with all the prevention methods we use.

Who Are We Hiding From?

Just a simple Google search with keywords like ‘webcam spying software’ can lead to endless search results promising free, uninterrupted, and helpful tips on the best spying experience. As scary as that is, they may not have started as or even meant to be a means to spy on people unknowingly, but maybe more as a measure of security for your devices. By having access to these software we may have been fulfilling a need to keep track of what’s going on with our electronics and to stay in control of our own data. However, history is witness to the very short amount of time new technology can be misused and distorted for much more sinister effects.

The root of all-cause is unsurprisingly not just a single all-encompassing reason but a plethora of small ones. It could be as easy as downloading a simple file from the internet embedded with malicious software right into your computer to more complicated hacking techniques hackers may employ. A safe bet is always to make sure some form of antivirus software is running on your laptop, but it isn’t much of a stretch to mention, there are plenty of ways hackers could get around those too, just ask Google.

A Sticky Mess

So now that it’s firmly established that technology is pretty horrifying and that we never should’ve come down this road, I can still optimistically say it isn’t all that dark. Leave it up to us humans to find such a simple yet elegant solution (maybe more of a temporary hold off), tape. Well, tape, stickers, post its. If it sticks, you’ve probably seen it being used as a webcam hiding tool. 

What’s really great is that by doing this, you virtually eliminate anyone from looking through your camera into your personal life even if they did manage a way into your devices. Yeah, it isn’t exactly the best security measure knowing that hackers can have many other threatening uses for your device once they’re in, but the comfort of knowing no one can see you through that camera gives us a much bigger sense of security than we credit for. Proof? Just look at Mark Zuckerberg, he’s way ahead in the game of taped up webcams.

Word to the Wise

I won’t sugarcoat this and say that putting a small piece of tape on the camera will likely lead to the ultimate security from all that’s wrong with the internet. There are still ways like microphone and data hacking that allow interfering in our lives a lot more accessible than it was years ago, but maybe we’ve already done a lot to keep our electronics safe. Maybe being all paranoid about a single way our entire digital lives could be stolen is not the best way to spend our time offline.

While the debate of how far is too far in protecting our online data remains debatable under many, many popular and unpopular opinions, I believe that we can all take heed to the saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ and just cover that damn camera with some tape.


Cover: Dylan Gillis


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