That Green light that warns you the mac webcam is on

As a computer tech, the amount of times that I have seen a computer with a sticky bandage over the camera is beyond my ability to count. As someone who understands a bit about Mac security, I totally understand why you would want to do that. But as a tech educator, I have a hard time allowing misinformation to stick around for too long.

Apple is warning people to not put a guard or bandage over their webcam

Apple has reported that some of the newer Macbook screens close so tightly to the body of the Laptop that a good portion of the webcam privacy guards will actually crack the screen. Apple has warned this will not will be covered under the warranty. (and Yes they can tell ) But how do you know that some malware is not spying on you through your webcam?

Can someone hack your mac webcam?

Yes! Though this is not likely the answer is still yes. One of the many reasons to have a really strong password, update your mac software often and avoid installing software that pops up when you are visiting a website.

In my years of tech support, I have never seen someone have their mac webcam hacked. The security on the mac is really good right out of the box. But keep reading because you need to know this next part. Just because I have never seen it does not mean it can’t happen, just that it is rare.

So how do you protect yourself from being watched through the webcam without your permission?

Mac Web Camera

You keep your eye out for this little green light near your web camera. This light ALWAYS shines when the camera is on. This a physical impossibility for the camera to work without the green light turning on. This is because the power needed to turn on the camera has to pass through the green light. So when the Green light turns on so does the camera and the other way around. In fact, if the light ever stops working so does the mac webcam. I wish iPhones had this security feature.

diagram of how the mac webcam works with the green light.

Software Accessing the Camera

When any software accesses the camera the light has to turn on before the camera will work. Now if you’re light is on and you do not have applications like Zoom, Skype or Photobooth active something is wrong.

How to check if malware is accessing the camera

So if you think that software is accessing your camera without your permission there is a few things that you can do.

Reboot the MacBook

Before you panic thinking that you have been hacked you need to first reboot the system. Sometimes on a mac software will get stuck. It is possible that even though you ended the Zoom call the camera is still being accessed by software.

Completely rebooting the software will force the software to “Let go” of the camera turning off the camera. However, if the camera light turns on as soon as you turn on the computer there may be an issue.

Force Quit all your software

Force quit is something that every MacBook user should know how to do. If you force quit all your applications. There is a good chance that will turn off the light and the camera.

If the light is still on then you may have some malware.

At this point, if you are still having issues with the camera light being on all the time you may have some spyware on your computer. Contact a Mac malware expert to remove the malware ASAP

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