Hackers can access your webcam without you knowing

TechCrunch has released a blog post on the frightening ability of hackers to access your webcam.

You know those people who put tape over their laptop’s webcam to keep digital peeping toms at bay? They’re not crazy.

A new proof of concept is making the rounds today that demonstrates how a hacker can snap pics off your webcam, right through the browser, with no consent required.

Read the whole post here.

Why trolls and hackers should be afraid

A while back The Age published an interesting article that claims online trolls and hackers, who have previously been able to remain anonymous, can now be identified by their writing style.

“Your writing style can give you away and on the internet anonymity is difficult to achieve,” say the US researchers who have developed online tools to analyse writing.

The researchers, from Drexel University in Philadelphia, studied the leaked conversations and contributions of hundreds of anonymous users in underground online forums.

They were able to identify 80 per cent of users using stylometric analysis to match writing styles to authors.

An interesting invention and may help deter bullying.

Read more here.

Public wifi warnings

Recently, Mashable wrote a piece warning users of public wifi, like that provided at Starbucks, could be the victims of hackers. Although there are very few Starbucks coffee shops in Australia, there are parallels we can draw with other fast food restaurants providing free public wifi.

According to ThreatMetrix, a provider of cybercrime prevention solutions, some hackers even leave malicious USB drives on tables for curious customers to plug into their devices. This allows them to retrieve personal information and even social network passwords. Although this may seem unlikely, ThreatMetrix says the scenario actually occurs.

 Cybercriminals can also use video cameras on a mobile device to capture what you’re doing nearby. This means if you are entering your credit card or email login information into a smartphone, you could be recorded doing so. Creepy, right?

 Read the whole article here.

Aussies held to ransom

A few days ago The Sydney Morning Herald reported on the advent of malicious software apparently holding your computer to ransom.

It seems that some computer users receive a message from the Australian Federal Police saying that their computer is locked and a payment is required for unlocking.

The first police-themed ransomware arrived in October in Australia, shortly before the Australian Federal Police (AFP) warned that cybercriminals were using its logo in a scam to trick victims into paying a fraudulent $100 fine for “illegal” online activity.

A spokesperson for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which operates consumer alert service Scamwatch, told Fairfax that it had received 100 complaints of police ransomware since the Australian-targeted scam first emerged.

Read the whole story here.

The loss of an entire digital life

A few days ago, Wired blog author Mat Honan published a post on how hackers accessed his Amazon and Apple IDs, which led them to hack into his Twitter account and then to wipe his iPhone and computer. It is a little complicated, but certainly worth reading.

This story should serve as a warning to those of us who have accounts ‘in the cloud’ where our private data such as addresses and credit card numbers are stored.

New web spy powers

Recently The Age reported that the Australian, yes you read that correctly, government want our private data.

There’s a very strong chance law enforcement will soon have access to a two-year backlog of our web data and telephone history due to law reforms. But so could hackers and just about everyone else.

The “data retention” scheme, secretly put together over a period of more than two years by the Attorney-General’s department for its minister, has been given a push by Attorney-General Nicola Roxon.

The Attorney-General on Monday put the proposal to a parliamentary joint committee on intelligence security to review it, among other proposals. If passed by parliament, the proposals would be the most significant expansion of the intelligence community’s powers since the Howard-era reforms that followed the 2001 terrorist attacks

Read the entire story here. 96% of survey respondents disagreed with the government’s plans. What are your thoughts?