As an iPhone user, I have often wondered if someone could actually watch me through my phone’s camera. After all, it seems like a plausible thing to do in this day and age. I was determined to find out the answer so I did some research and testing to find out the truth. In this blog post, I’ll share what I discovered and how I solved this question, as well as other solutions I found to help protect my privacy.
Is It Possible I’m Being Watched Through My iPhone Cam?
According to experts, the security enclave chip in your iPhone makes it impossible for even the most sophisticated hacking tools to gain access to your camera. That, on top of the multi-layered defense built into the iOS, is there to protect your privacy.
However, a lot of people still aren’t convinced.
Here’s some proof: In 2016, an investigative journalist let someone steal his iPhone, pre-programmed with spyware. Using the Find My app and the phone’s cam, he was able to follow the unsuspecting person’s day-to-day activities. Watch the short film here.
How Does Camera Spying Work?
Now, the only way camera hacking could work is if you grant an app access to your cam. This app can masquerade as a legit app, while in truth, it’s spyware or stalkerware.
Spyware is a malicious app you might have installed on your phone, sometimes via phishing emails carrying the download link.
Stalkerware, on the other hand, is an app that another person physically installs on your phone to stalk you.
Both can do the following:
- Turn on your cam and microphone
- Read your text messages and emails
- Take photos and record videos
- Intercept or eavesdrop on your calls
- Monitor your social media activity
Is My iPhone’s Camera Hacked?
It’s hard to tell if you’re being watched through your cam.
However, there are red flags that might alert you of possible covert activities happening on your phone. Watch out for these:
- Strange text messages
- Misbehaving camera
- Overheating phone
- Phone taking forever to shut down
- Questionable signs of activity
- Sluggish performance
- Unusual spikes in data usage
- Fast-draining battery
- Weird browser history
- Odd photos and videos in your gallery
- Suspicious background apps you have no memory of downloading
How to Protect Yourself From Camera Spying
Here are the ways you can protect yourself from the unethical and illegal use of your cam:
1. Think Before You Click
If you receive suspicious texts, social media app messages, or emails, do not click on any links and delete them.
If you smell something fishy, it might be phishing.
2. Review Your App Permissions
iPhones running iOS 14 or later have color indicators you can see on the screen’s status bar. It’ll let you know when an app is using your cam/mic.
- An orange dot means an app has live access to your mic.
- A green dot means an app has live access to your cam or cam/mic.
Even if doing something unrelated on your phone, this dot will light up to alert you that a background app is actively using your cam or mic.
Occasionally, a pop-up will appear on your screen asking for permission to access your cam for a certain app. Not all apps are malicious, but it’s best to monitor and review the apps you’ve allowed access to your cam.
If you suspect something’s up with an app, you can deny it access to your cam, or better yet, uninstall it altogether.
How to Revoke Camera Permissions
You can also turn off permissions for not commonly used apps. This way, even if an app is breached, it won’t have access to your cam.
Follow these steps:
- Open the Settings app.
- Tap Privacy > Camera. This will show all the apps with the green toggles—the ones you’ve permitted to use your cam.
- Tap on the green toggles for the apps you don’t want to access your cam.
3. Avoid Video Chat Apps
Apps provide backdoors into your phone and may expose you to security risks.
Some apps let you use their video-calling capabilities over their website on your browser. This works great because you don’t have to download their mobile app, which will otherwise take up space on your phone.
Though a web browser isn’t assuredly secure, fewer apps with access to your cam mean less chance of a break-in. If you have to download and use an app for a rather specific need, you can just uninstall it afterward.
4. Get the Latest iOS Update
Apple periodically rolls out software updates not just to introduce new features, but also to fix bugs and resolve security issues.
Stay on top of your online privacy by getting the latest security updates.
5. Use Mark Zuck’s Tape Hack
For a genius gazillionaire level of security, tape over your cam with a piece of washi tape, or any tape, for that matter.
Can someone watch me through my iPhone camera? It’s a possibility and a clear violation of your privacy.
Keep an eye out for every app you install on your phone and the ones lurking in the background without your knowledge. Every little effort counts in preventing camera spying.
If the smartest Internet person uses tape to protect himself, shouldn’t we all?
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