Among the NSA's Own Tips for Securing Computers: Remove the Webcam

And if the NSA doesn't trust a piece of hardware, you probably shouldn't either.
offthenon.gif

Seems like everything gets hacked these days. Baby monitors. White House employees' personal email. Toilets

If it's connected to the Internet, it seems at least a little vulnerable. 

But surely we can trust that workhorse selfie-generator, the iSight webcam built into the top bezel of Mac laptops. Or... Maybe not. Yesterday, security researchers Steve Glass and Christopher Soghoian were passing around a National Security Administration factsheet with a little bit of advice for Mac users on how to "harden" their computers to attacks.

Among the tips, we find the following suggestion: "Disable Integrated iSight and Sound Input."

"The best way to disable an integrated iSight camera is to have an Apple-certified technician remove it," the NSA writes (emphasis added). Then, you might try "placing opaque tape over the camera" or try the software-only method of removing one of the components of Quicktime's files. And if the NSA doesn't trust a particular piece of hardware can't be used for surveillance, it's probably safe to assume an average user shouldn't either.

The built-in microphone comes under scrutiny, too. The NSA suggests setting the mic input level to zero and removing a file that cripples the sound system.

The rest of the tips are available in this handy, seemingly laminateable PDF. They include firewalling instructions, file deletion suggestions, and several other procedures. In fact, the NSA maintains an archive of factsheets on protecting its employees, contractors, and associates, but you can use it to protect yourself from hackers -- inside or outside the government.

Presented by

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Dravet Syndrome is a severe form of epilepsy that affects children. Could marijuana oils alleviate their seizures?

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Inside a family's fight to use marijuana oils to treat epilepsy

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

More in Technology

Just In