Sextortionists and fake antivirus software are not the only ones who hijack webcams anymore. Now the FBI is doing it. Only they have a method which does not turn on the indicator light that let’s you know the webcam is on. Of course, as long they are in your computer recording live feed, they also download files, photos, emails and anything else you have saved.
The surveillance technique was revealed when a criminal threatened to bomb a building, a jail, a hotel, three colleges and two airports unless the government released James Holmes, the man arrested for shooting up a Colorado movie theater.
Even though no bombs were found at the locations threatened, a Denver judge still granted the FBI a warrant to use the malware to spy on the suspects they believed were making these threats. Unfortunately the malware did not work as designed, and the suspect remains at large.
In a second attempt to gain permission to use this FBI created malware a Houston judge stated the malware is “extremely intrusive’’ and denied the FBI’s application.
It is uncertain how many times the FBI has used the malware, if it ever did work as designed, if it was used with Phiser warrants or without a warrant, or how much this malware cost. The FBI is remaining silent on the issue.
Christopher Soghoian of the American Civil Liberties Union commented to the NY Post
We have transitioned into a world where law enforcement is hacking into people’s computers and we have never had public debate