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Do I really need a webcam cover? Keep your laptop secure with a lens concealer

Keep your privacy intact with a webcam cover that stops peeping eyes from seeing what they shouldn’t

If you’re not concerned about your privacy being breached via a malicious hack attack, then you really ought to be. Being proactive is the key when it comes to preventing nefarious individuals or malware from gaining access to your devices, data, and personal files. Using a webcam cover is simply another tool in your defensive arsenal, and it’s extremely simple to use.

A webcam cover is essentially a plastic or metal tab which you place over the lens of your PC, laptop, tablet, or phone. These almost always have to be purchased separately to the device – in 2018, manufacturers ought to be building them in, and we hope to see this happen more in the near future. In the meantime, though, here’s why you should buy a webcam cover.

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Webcam cover: What does it do?

Covers the lens of any camera incorporated into a device. It‘s an in-built feature we’re seeing more often: the Somfy One home-security camera has a prominent shutter that closes automatically when you deactivate it, and manufacturers such as HP and Lenovo include manual covers in some of their latest laptops.

Webcam cover: Why would I want one?

A camera connected to the internet is handy, but when you’re not Skyping it’s still there. Of course, it isn’t really watching you unless software is accessing it – but how can you be sure? Most PC webcams have an LED light that shows when they’re active, but it’s possible for malware to disable the light. Unfortunately, the fear of being spied on is well founded. There have been court cases against webcam voyeurs, intelligence agencies can access phone cameras, and websites have shown thousands of live feeds from hacked security cameras.

Webcam cover: Is there a catch?

Not really. It’s hard to be sure that an indicator light reflects the actual status of the camera, but a physical shutter (typically made of metal), obviously prevents light reaching the sensor.

Webcam cover: Could I do without one?

As long as you’re using even basic anti-malware protection (such as Windows’ built-in Defender Antivirus, or Microsoft Security Essentials in Windows 7), and take reasonable care to avoid any Trojans that pop up asking you to enter your password, no one should be able to access your webcam uninvited. If it has an indicator light, that will help avoid accidental use.

For those who prefer a physical barrier but aren’t buying new hardware, a small piece of card attached with sticky tape – heck, even a piece of Blu-tack – should work fine.

Stick on webcam covers for PCs, laptops, tablets etc.

Clip on webcam covers for PCs, laptops, tablets, etc.

Webcam Privacy Screen (£5.40) – Buy now from Shapeways

MacBook Pro Owl Webcam cover (£14.43) – Buy now from Shapeways

See even more clip-on webcam covers here.