Settling in for a cozy night with Netflix can result in some creepy consequences, as one Toronto woman recently learned.
Chelsea Clark was in bed watching movies with her boyfriend last month on a laptop they used primarily for the streaming website. When she logged into her Facebook account after work the next day, there was a message from someone she didn’t know, which made her immediately uncomfortable, since her settings only allowed friends to message her.
The person contacting her was named Mahmoud Abdo and his message read: “Realy,cute couple [sic]” along with snapshot of Clark and her boyfriend in bed.
The account, which listed the user’s location in Cairo, Egypt, appeared to be fake. It has since been deleted.
Clark immediately went to the police, who seized her boyfriend’s computer for analysis and continue to investigate.
One cyber security expert believes the hacker was someone who knew the couple, though hacking a webcam is relatively easy.
“If you have access to the physical computer, all you need is some tech knowledge and a USB key and you’re done,” Erick Parent told Vice News. Remote access, he explains, requires some form of user involvement.
Ann Cavoukian, the executive director of the Privacy and Big Data Institute at Ryerson University, told Global News that this unsettling incident concerns more than just privacy issues.
“It’s also a very significant violation of property rights,” she said. “This couple’s property, their computer, was basically accessed completely inappropriately in an unauthorized manner and then to add insult to injury, the webcam was used to capture them in very intimate moments within their home where privacy is sacrosanct.”
Security experts stress the importance of keeping your computer up-to-date on security software and if you want to be extra cautious, place tape or a sticky-note over your webcam.