What if I told you that there was a $2.00 device that could dramatically cut down your risk of being spied on, extorted, or stalked. Would you hand over the two bucks to buy one?

The odds of actually being spied on, extorted, or stalked are admittedly slim, but on the rare occasion that theoretical becomes reality the consequences can be devastating. I’d liken the cost-benefit analysis to buying homeowner’s insurance; the odds are slim that your house will burn down or flood, but if it does, you’ll be glad to have paid your policy premiums all those years.

So, what is this magical device?  A webcam cover.

My December article, on what to do if you’re being blackmailed or extorted, was a primer for mitigating the fallout of an active criminal effort. But, as one astute reader pointed out, it didn’t address how to prevent such efforts – many of which are designed to catch the victim in a compromising situation – in the first place. A webcam cover, combined with some common sense and internet savvy, is perhaps the most important piece of your defensive armor. Unfortunately, many people fail to consider that the inconspicuous little camera built into their computer is potentially always watching.

The fact is that computers have increasingly invaded what were once private, tech-free zones, like the bedroom. How many times have you taken your tablet into bed or left your laptop sitting somewhere you don’t expect prying eyes? That little camera is like a silent watcher; potentially hackable by someone with the right skills and determination.

Rising Cyber Crime: More Risks for Extortion

Cyber crime is on the rise, and these days it seems that a significant number, if not the majority, of blackmail, extortion, and other invasions of privacy occur via the internet. The internet allows cyber criminals and foreign intelligence operatives to obscure their identities and hide behind the safety of hostile foreign governments or non-existent extradition treaties. More locally, the neighborhood creep or someone who has taken a fancy to your social media profile might just love to secretly watch you and have the technical ability to do it.  Why expose yourself (no pun intended) to the risk?

If it can happen to celebrities, it can happen to you.  Indeed, clearance holders are particularly susceptible to the devastating impact of web cam extortion, not to mention spying by a hostile foreign government looking for leverage to recruit spies.  Sadly, we’ve encountered the first issue once in my law practice already and I’m sure it won’t be the last time.

There is, of course, a fine line between paranoia and prudence. Spending two bucks to avoid what could be your worst nightmare is definitely the latter.


This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation

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Security Clearance Attorney Sean M. Bigley represents clients worldwide in security clearance denials and revocations. He is a former investigator for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. For more information, please visit www.bigleylaw.com