Expert: Peeping Toms can use computer cameras

Man remotely accesses woman's computer from another country

SAN ANTONIO - As chief security officer for Aces Private Investigation, Ryan Birdsell has been paid to be both the watcher and the watcher's watcher.

"A particular time, we had a client that wanted to watch her husband while she was gone out of town. She believed that he was cheating and it was an infidelity case and what we were doing is we would randomly turn the webcam on a different periods of time," Birdsell said.

While the majority of private cases are infidelity cases, Birdsell points out it could just as easily be a stranger.

"Gaining remote access can be very easy for any individual, whether they're here in San Antonio or across the sea in Russia," Birdsell said.

Birdsell said one of the more memorable cases was a lady who came to their firm to report videos she found of herself on the internet.

"We found traffic that was suspicious coming from another country and, basically, they would record her at different hours in her personal life, and after they had recorded her, they took those videos and they had placed them on the internet," Birdsell said.

The threat of being spied on is greater than it was five years ago, because most smart phones, tablets and laptops come with built-in cameras.

The software is installed remotely in the same way you might get a virus.

"We have things called 'drive-by downloads,' that just by clicking on a link and going to a website, it surreptitiously installs software on your computer," said Cyber Expert Rayford Sims, from the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security.

One of the best ways to figure out if you're being watched is to see if the computer camera's indicator light is on and one of the easiest, most effective ways to protect against spying is to cover the camera with a small piece of paper.

Sims said with cybercrimes like these, money is the driver, but jealousy and malice can be, too, hence the word "malware."

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