Camera Blockers - are they a good idea?

Web-cam and device camera aperture cover-up stickers are now becoming used to reinforce a security message, and promote your brand.

Web-cam and device camera aperture cover-up stickers are now becoming used to reinforce a security message, and promote your brand.

Everyone is now sensitive to the need to prevent malicious intrusion into computers and hand-held devices. We’ve just started to see promotional products aimed at blocking off your webcam and device cameras so that they can’t see you – and we thought that an article on whether this actually achieved anything, and was a good promotional idea, was timely.

Your typical old-fashioned webcam, now fast disappearing and being replaced by integrated camera devices.

Your typical old-fashioned webcam, now fast disappearing and being replaced by integrated camera devices.

When you use a brand new computer or laptop or mobile device (whether Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS or Android), then you don’t need to worry about your device’s camera ‘spying’ on you. You would expect (correctly) that the camera would only be used by applications and the operating system for legitimate purposes.

But one of the things that might go wrong if your device is hacked (infiltrated) is that your on-board camera gets used for nefarious purposes. Hence the advice to cover it up (apparently, even Mark Zuckerberg does so). Of course, there are plenty of other things that malicious computer code on your device might get up to, from intercepting web-traffic en-route to financial websites or encrypting your documents and demanding a ransom to decrypt your precious data (documents, photos and so on).

Evil ransomware!

Evil ransomware!

So, the question is: will covering up your on-board camera actually help? Well, yes it will in the sense that the camera won’t be able to ‘see’ anything, but no it won't in that it will still be able to hear what you or others are saying. And a more fundamental problem is that if you have been hacked, there are also bigger problems in terms of what could go wrong that just worrying about your webcam.

Remember, the webcam itself will see you and your face, and (in modern integrated devices) hear conversations. Unless you are doing something embarrassing, or having a conversation with very confidential content, although bad, it’s not the worst exploit or hack that could happen.

Hacking your device can occur through exploits that leverage weaknesses in the operating system or application software running on your device (which is why regular updates are so vital), through clicking on malicious links in emails (still a surprisingly popular attack for hackers), via poor ‘perimeter’ security (your router is configured incorrectly or has a bug in it), through giving someone physical access to your device (they use a dodgy usb stick, or browse to unsafe sites), and so on.

If you don’t do any of those things, and got your computer or device originally from a trusted source, we would argue that webcam / camera hacking is still a low risk event. But, it is still worth covering up providing you don't forget about the other risks and problems that can occur!

Where it might be more useful is when you use shared computers (a friend’s, one in a hotel or conference centre, and so on) – here, covering up the webcam could well be worth doing. Or, if you yourself are - for some reason - a likely target. Clearly, Zuckerberg is. Me, no. But perhaps you?

The above has been written from the perspective of computer usage risks. But, as a promotional product, this is still a very neat idea. For example, the mobile phone is always used during the day - the benefits of having a branded item on the phone are obvious. For those companies and organisations that want to reinforce a security message, this could be a powerful way of spreading the word.

Lots of opportunity to spread a message and, of course, the message is always right in front of the user's eyes!

Lots of opportunity to spread a message and, of course, the message is always right in front of the user's eyes!

Five great eco-friendly promotional products

Vegetal Pens

vegetal eco pens

 

These pens are environmentally friendly versions of the classic push button ballpen. The Vegetal Pen is 80% derived from corn and is also 80% biodegradable, sporting a frosted white barrel with a choice of coloured fittings. Black ink refills sold separately.

Birchley A5 Notebook

Environmentally friendly spiral bound A5 notebook made from 95% Recycled Cardboard including an elasticated closure and pen holder. Notebook contains100 pages of lined 100% recycled paper.

Sandhurst 4.5oz Fold Up Cotton Shopper

We have a great range of environmentally friendly shoppers including this 140gsm natural cotton fold up shopper/tote. Folds into itself with a little draw string closure. Easily portable.

Bamboo Fibre Lanyard

bamboo lanyard

Flat bamboo fibre lanyard with good quality swivel lever hook and optional safety break. Biodegradable & sustainable. Pantone matched webbing provided at no extra cost.

Sticky-Mate Note 3

Our Sticky-Mate Notes are a promotional favourite thanks to their great value for money and branding opportunities. They're available in a range of colours and sizes.

Each pad contains 50 sheets of self-adhesive notes glued to a backing sheet.