Recently I’ve noticed a lot of my fellow students covering up their laptop webcams with stickers. I’ve seen postage stamps, Spongebob stickers, even a NSA sticker used to cover up students’ front facing webcams. But what’s all the big fuss, and is it a waste of time and tape?
The trend first started in 2013, when Edward Snowden leaked thousands of NSA documents revealing how much the US government surveils. Around the same time, various news outlets showed how easy it was for hackers to access your webcam without your knowledge. Companies soon began making stickers and sliding tabs to cover up webcams when not in use. The trend continues to this day, and has even manifested itself as an internet meme as “The FBI agent watching me through my webcam.”
I talked with a few of the students who put stickers on their webcams. The general opinion was that it wasn’t very serious. But for most, putting a sticker seemed like a no-brainer for most, as it is a free way of preventing hackers from violating your privacy. However, none of the students I talked to had a sticker on their phone’s camera.
I am not about to waste some of my duct tape covering up my webcam on my laptop. 99.9% of the time, it would just be a bad picture of my face which, let’s be honest here, no one really wants to see. Instead, the best defense against what hackers really want (credit card info instead of a 1 AM selfie) is a good anti-malware program and secure connections to all your favorite websites. But sometimes late at night while I browse Reddit, I get a feeling like that 80s= one hit wonder that Somebody’s Watching Me.