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Camfecting, in the field of computer security, is the fraudulent process of attempting to hack into a person's webcam and activate it without the webcam owner's permission. The remotely activated webcam can be used to watch anything within the webcam's field of vision, sometimes the webcam owner itself. Camfecting is most often carried out by infecting the victim's computer with a virus that can provide the hacker access to the victim's webcam. This attack is specifically targeted at the victim's webcam, and hence the name camfecting, a portmanteau of the words cam and infecting.
Typically, a webcam hacker or a camfecter sends his victim an innocent-looking application which has a hidden Trojan software through which the camfecter can control the victim's webcam. The camfecter virus installs itself silently when the victim runs the original application. Once installed, the camfecter can turn on the webcam and capture pictures/videos. The camfecter software works just like the original webcam software present in the victim computer, the only difference being that the camfecter controls the software instead of the webcam owner.
Camfecting is considered to be one of the most serious and dangerous intrusions into an individual's privacy. Recently, there have been a number of cases ( Robbins v. Lower Merion School District and Tyler Clementi ), which is making the public much more aware of the privacy issues relating to webcams. Recently webcam privacy software has been introduced by such companies such as Stop Being Watched or Webcamlock. The software exposes access to a webcam and prompts the user to allow or deny access by showing what program is trying to access the webcam. Allowing the user to accept a trusted program the user recognizes or terminate the attempt immediately. Other companies on the market manufacture and sell sliding lens covers that allow users to retrofit the computer and close access to the camera lens.
A computer that does not have a reasonably up-to-date webcam software or any anti-virus (or firewall) software installed and operational may be at increased risk for Camfecting. Softcams may nominally increase this risk, if not maintained or configured properly.