In a recent report by The Washington Post, it was revealed that the FBI has been able to secretly activate a target’s laptop camera “without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording” for several years.
While this may be surprising to some, it really shouldn’t be. Previous reports revealed that the FBI employs hackers to create software to remotely activate the microphones on laptops and cell phones as well as cameras. The U.S. government has also become the world’s largest buyer of malware. The NSA also recommended physically removing the webcam from Apple laptops for security reasons.
In August, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI has developed hacking tools like this for over a decade, though they rarely are discussed publicly.
The Washington Post cites Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico, who said that the remote activation of cameras is used mostly in serious cases.
Thomas, who now sits on the advisory board of Subsentio, a company that helps telecommunications firms comply with federal wiretap laws, told the Post that the bureau uses the technique “mainly in terrorism cases or the most serious criminal investigations.”