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Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams: Why you should cover the camera on your phone or laptop – St. Thomas Times-Journal



When your laptop is off, its webcam can’t be activated. But many of us keep our laptops in hibernation or sleep mode, which means the device can be woken by a cybercriminal

Most of us have a camera built into our phone, tablet, laptop, or a desktop webcam we use for work, study or virtual socialising.

The Conversation

Whether you use Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams, the webcam on your home PC or laptop device has probably never been as active as it is during this pandemic.

Most of us have a camera built into our phone, tablet, laptop, or a desktop webcam we use for work, study or virtual socialising.

Unfortunately, this privilege can leave us vulnerable to an online attack known as camfecting. This is when hackers take control of your webcam remotely. They do this by disabling the “on” light which usually indicates the camera is active – so victims are none the wiser.

Many of our device cameras remain unsecured. In fact, research has suggested globally there are more than 15,000 web camera devices (including in homes and businesses) readily accessible to hackers, without even needing to be hacked.

Take a tip from Zuckerberg

When your laptop is turned off its webcam can’t be activated. However, many of us keep our laptops in hibernation or sleep mode (which are different). In this case, the device can be woken by a cybercriminal, and the camera turned on. Even Mark Zuckerberg has admitted he covers his webcam and masks his microphone.

The number of recorded instances of image captured through unauthorised webcam access is relatively low. This is because most attacks happen without the user ever realising they’ve been compromised. Thus, these attacks go unaccounted for.

It’s important to consider why someone would choose to hack into your home device. It’s unlikely an attacker will capture images of you for personal blackmail, or their own creepy exploits. While these instances do eventuate, the majority of illicit webcam access is related to gathering information for financial gain.


Cybercriminals frequently attempt tricking people into believing they’ve been caught by a webcam hack. Everyday there are thousands of spam emails sent in a bid to convince users they’ve been “caught” on camera. But why?

Shaming people for “inappropriate” webcam use in this way is a scam, one which generates considerable ransom success. Many victims pay up in fear of being publicly exposed.

Most genuine webcam hacks are targeted attacks to gather restricted information.
They often involve tech-savvy corporate groups carrying out intelligence gathering and covert image capturing. Some hacks are acts of corporate espionage, while others are the business of government intelligence agencies.

There are two common acquisition techniques used in camfecting attacks. The first is known as an RAT (Remote Administration Tool) and the second takes place through false “remote tech support” offered by malicious people.

Genuine remote tech support usually comes from your retail service provider (such as Telstra or Optus). We trust our authorised tech support people, but you shouldn’t extend that trust to a “friend” you hardly know offering to use their own remote support software to “help you” with a problem.

An example of an RAT is a Trojan virus delivered through email. This gives hackers internal control of a device.

Trojan virus

When a Trojan virus infects a device, it’s not just the webcam that is remotely accessed, it’s the whole computer. This means access to files, photos, banking and a range of data.

The ability to install a RAT has been around for several years. In 2015, a popular RAT could be purchased on the internet for just US $40. The malware (harmful software) can be deployed via an email, attachment, or flash drive.

Those wanting to learn how to use such tools need look no further than YouTube, which has many tutorials. It has never been easier for hackers.

They’re everywhere

Our homes are getting “smarter” each year. In 2018, the average Australian household reportedly had 17 connected devices.

Let’s say there’s one or two laptops, three or four mobile phones and tablets, a home security camera system and a smart TV with a built-in camera for facial recognition.

Add a remote video doorbell, a talking doll named My Friend Cayla, the drone helicopter you got for Christmas, and the robot toy that follows you around the house – and it’s possible your household has more than 20 IP accessible cameras.

To better understand your vulnerabilities you can try a product like Shodan. This search engine allows you to identify which of your devices can be seen by others through an internet connection.


Placing a piece of black tape over a camera is one simple low-tech solution for webcam hacking. Turning your laptop or desktop computer off when not in use is also a good idea. Don’t let a device’s hibernation, sleep or low power mode lure you into a false sense of safety.

At work you may have firewalls, antivirus, and intrusion detection systems provided by your company. Such protections are void for most of us when working from home. “Cyberhygiene” practices will help secure you from potential attacks.

Always use secure passwords, and avoid recycling old ones with added numbers such as “Richmond2019”, or “Manutd2020”. Also, make sure your antivirus and operating system software is regularly updated.

Most of all, use common sense. Don’t share your password (including your home wifi password), don’t click suspicious links, and routinely clear your devices of unnecessary apps.

When it comes to using webcams, you may wonder if you’re ever completely safe. This is hard to know – but rest assured there are steps you can take to give yourself a better chance.The Conversation

By David Cook, Lecturer, Computer and Security Science,Edith Cowan University, Edith Cowan University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Now you can buy puzzles of Toronto businesses – NOW Magazine



In Toronto, puzzles have become an increasingly popular pandemic pastime. Seemingly endless time indoors means we’re all partying like it’s 1799, with local gift and game shops having a hard time keeping puzzles in stock.

A new Toronto startup wants to combine our newly-minted jones for jigsaws with the opportunity to help out struggling small businesses. PieceTogether is a new project that creates jigsaw puzzles featuring images of beloved local businesses – and gives $15 from every $35 sale directly back to the business.

“Even as restrictions ease many of these smaller businesses will still have to operate at a loss, it’s going to be difficult for a long time,” said co-founder Rich Pauptit in a release. “It’s just devastating to think that some of our favourite neighbourhood places to visit may have to close down.”

By buying a puzzle, he adds, “you get something fun to do at home as well as an easy way to support these vital independent businesses.”

Among the first wave of puzzles available for purchase: The Cameron House’s iconic exterior, the leafy cocktail bar Reyna, a cool bottle of beer from Shacklands, and a bird’s eye view of Stackt, with even more on the way. Check out the full lineup here.


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Google Silently Releases Android Auto in More Countries – autoevolution



Google has reportedly launched Android Auto in new countries, as users have started seeing it in the Google Play Store and they are allowed to install it just like any other Android game or app.
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While it’s technically possible to install and use Android Auto in pretty much any market out there using the stand-alone APK installer, the app is officially supported only in a limited number of countries, which means only users living there can download and install it from the Google Play Store.

But more recently, users in a couple of new countries have been provided with the official Android Auto listing the Google Play Store, including here those in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Users who turned to reddit to confirm that Android Auto is now live in these two countries explain that they can “update it legitimately,” as seen in the screenshot here.

Others based the same countries, however, claim Android Auto isn’t available in the Google Play Store on their devices, so the app either rolls out in stages to these users or the Play Store updates are actually the result of the app originally being installed with the APK file.

In other words, if Android Auto is deployed using the dedicated APK installer, then updates are automatically served through the Google Play Store, and this is why some might be tempted to believe the app is now officially supported in their country.

But one user in the Netherlands says this isn’t the case, as updates through the Google Play Store weren’t possible before.

I couldn’t update it through the store prior tot this, even with android 10. So I had to keep reinstalling through apk. Android auto seem to work different for a lot of people though. On my s9 plus it won’t show up in the store, even if I reinstall it on this phone (s10+)it will still show up in the store. On my phone it’s not a system app though,” one user explains.

Google is yet to officially announce the availability of Android Auto in more countries, so our only option is to actually wait until a confirmation on this is offered. Until then, a healthy dose of skepticism is definitely recommended.

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Distributel Permanently Waives Data Overage Charges on all Internet Plans – Canada NewsWire



Company responds to the evolving needs of its customers

TORONTO, May 28, 2020 /CNW/ – Distributel Communications Limited is proud to announce that we have eliminated internet overage charges permanently on all current plans for our customers. In March, we communicated that we would temporarily waive these fees to support the large number of customers whose families are working and learning from home. Today’s decision reflects our customers’ changing needs and furthers our commitment to doing what’s right for Canadians.

“Our customers’ satisfaction is extremely important to us. They told us that they truly appreciated having data caps removed and that it made a real difference for them,” said Matt Stein, CEO of Distributel. “We thought about extending the program past the initial three months, but we quickly realized that customers’ needs have changed for the long term.  The right thing to do was to eliminate these charges permanently. The internet has become such an essential part of our lives, that we want to make sure our customers can stay connected without ever worrying about additional charges.”

We listen to our customers and continue to respond to their evolving needs. This change is effective immediately across all capped plans, and no further customer action is required.

This is a time of change for everyone – our customers, our employees, and our partners. Our business continuity plans and practices have allowed us to continue supporting Canadians throughout this period. We are grateful for the tremendous efforts of our employees, customers, vendors and partners—all of whom continue to be there for one another.  

“We’re all still adapting to this new world, and it’s clear that even as pandemic restrictions begin to lift, there are going to be long-term changes to how we work, learn and live,” said Stein. “Today more than ever, the internet enables many of the things we value most: keeping loved ones close, learning and developing, interacting with customers and colleagues, and recharging at the end of the day. We’re very proud that we can play such an important role in Canadians’ lives.”

About Distributel
Established in 1988, Distributel is a leading national, independent telecommunications provider offering a wide range of business and residential communications services. 100% Canadian-owned, with offices across the country and a national network, Distributel continues to forge new partnerships and bring innovative solutions to market directly and through a thriving wholesale division. ThinkTel, the Business Services Division of Distributel, is a provider of advanced voice and data services for the SMB and Enterprise markets throughout Canada. TV services provided through TotalTV Inc., an IPTV service provider that operates in Ontario and Quebec. As a top Microsoft Solutions Partner and a Cisco PMP, the Business Services division is focused on driving industry innovation. For more information, visit:

SOURCE Distributel Communications Limited

For further information: Aby Bueno, Broad Reach Communications, T: 416-858-3135, E: [email protected]

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