According to a new report just released, Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the FBI's Operational Technology Division in Quantico, said in a recent story in The Washington Post that the FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer's camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording — for several years. If you own a Mac, you should pay close attention to this report.
Now research from Johns Hopkins University provides the first public confirmation that it's possible to do just that, and demonstrates how. While the research focused on MacBook and iMac models released before 2008, the authors say similar techniques could work on more recent computers from a wide variety of vendors. In other words, if a laptop has a built-in camera, it's possible someone — whether the federal government or a malicious 19 year old — could access it to spy on the user at any time.
Even though Apple went to some amount of effort to make sure that the LED would turn on whenever the camera was taking images, the fact is that a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins by the name of Stephen Checkoway was able to get around this security feature. In light of the whole NSA mess on spying on citizens, this is a creepy piece of news. For more on this check out the full Washington Post report.