The NSA could be using your webcam to spy on you

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(PIX11) — Caitlin Tolchin knows she’s far from anonymous when she’s online, but was still shocked to find out how far things are being taken, and who’s behind it.

With a sigh she throws up her hands. “You start to wonder who’s watching and why?” she says with a note of exasperation to her voice.

I’m in her midtown apartment talking about the National Security Agency, hackers, government spies and terrorists.  Not because she’s any of the above.  She’s a graphic designer. But because she just uses the web like the rest of us, and could very likely be among the millions of Americans who are having their personal space monitored, and tracked. All in the name of counter-terrorism.

The NSA could be using your webcam to spy on you, even when you’re not using the computer.

“It’s very creepy, it’s very big brother, and it seems unnecessary,” she sums up. And security experts, while explaining this stuff away, pretty much agree with her.

I sit down with one of those software security patching types that companies pay to keep all their data safe.  I ask him the question most of us want answered.  “Where does it end?”

CJ Bordoloi has a slight, wry grin on his face.  “Unfortunately, it never  ends.”

The founder of points out the novices who are invading our homes.  We talk about the cases of sextortionists being charged with spying on hundreds of women, demanding money to not release the naked pictures they get.

But data is where it’s really at for hackers, and that’s where Bordoloi comes in to help companies keep their data secure.   But he says, all this spying on citizens, is actually to protect, not exploit.

“The bad guys are doing bad stuff with it, the NSA is not doing anything with it except for intelligence gathering purposes,” he points out.

Bordoloi says even the not-so-tech-savvy can protect themselves at home too, with help from the government using the National Vulnerability Database to check on the software programs you use on your computer.  Hackers, and the government, it turns out, can only get in your computer when a software program has a problem and needs a patch.  Fix it immediately, and all those spying programs can’t spy on you.

Websites are selling fixes for your spying camera, from quippy stickers to cover the webcam, to even sliders for people who frequently use their webcams.

And while you can keep patching and covering, you can also expect the spies will keep trying to find another way in to your life.

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