Cameras are some of the most intrusive objects we now have in our homes. The reason for this is because most of the cameras we own are in objects connected to the internet, and therefore possibly accessible by people outside of our household. They are now included in so many everyday gadgets that it can be easy to forget just how many we might own. They are in laptops, smartphones, tablets, baby monitors, and home monitoring systems. These are just the most common, and there may well be more in your home.

This is not just a scare story. There have been many incidents of people who have found that their cameras were working without their knowledge, and taking pictures of them during moments they believed were completely private. Sometimes these people are then subjected to blackmailing threats, where the pictures are threatened to be released unless a sum is paid to the attackers. Other attackers may just wish to put the pictures online for the sole purpose of causing embarrassment.

You would be right to be worried about this, and since many electronic items contain cameras built in as a matter of course, the question is what to do about it. The answer is that whenever the cameras are not in use, they should be either covered up or pointed away from anything we want to keep private. For laptops, covering the camera with something is advisable, this can be something like tape (although this can look ugly). Alternatively, the top can be shut every time it is not in use (however, this would not mean that the camera would not be accessed during the laptop’s use). For smartphones and tablets, it is more difficult to advise that their cameras should be covered, since they are usually in more frequent use than laptop cameras. Therefore, they should be put in their cases whenever they are not in use, and not left outside where their cameras are free to see.

There is really nothing that can be done about baby monitors and home monitoring systems, since their whole purpose is to watch our children and homes. They are known to be easy to hack. The best option is not to use them, or in the case of baby monitors, to use those which are audio only instead instead of watching them (although the broadcast sounds could also be listened to, the breach would be much less severe). With regards to home monitoring systems, it is worth considering just how much extra security one would feel it would give, since it may just as easily allow an attacker to hack into the system and gain valuable information about your home.

As part of a good approach to security, we need to be worried not just about our computers, tablets and smartphones, but also those other gadgets which could be used to compromise our privacy and security. It is worth noting that it is not just cameras which could be used to do this, since many items also contain other equipment like microphones. However, ensuring that cameras are covered up in a good first step in approaching this issue.