Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why the Director of the FBI Says You Should Cover Your Webcam with Tape

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why the Director of the FBI Says You Should Cover Your Webcam with Tape

Article excerpt

Sometimes the most reliable precautions are the most obvious.

At a conference held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday, FBI director James Comey, despite being mocked online for his April admission that he covered webcams with tape as a security precaution, defended the practice as a "sensible [thing] you should be doing."

"You go into any government office and we all have the little camera things that sit on top of the screen," he said, according to The Hill. "They all have a little lid that closes down on them."

"You do that so that people who don't have authority don't look at you," added Mr. Comey.

Social media users and civil-liberties activists had accused the FBI director of having a double standard on security, noted NPR in April, after Comey said that tech companies like Apple, with whom the FBI was then wrangling over unlocking the devices used by the San Bernardino shooters, shouldn't make "unhackable" devices.

Comey isn't the only one going with the low-tech fix. In June, Twitter users noted that in a photo posted by Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg, tape was covering not only his laptop's camera but also his microphone jack. And privacy experts generally recommend the measure as a basic cybersecurity step, in an era when a broad swath of the American public has little trust in the security of their communications.

In 2015, the Pew Research Center found that American adults would not rank any of six common channels of communication as "very secure" when it came to sharing private information through them. Forty-six percent said that calling on a cellphone was either "not very secure" or "not at all secure," and 59 percent said the same of sending text messages.

A month later, a survey commissioned by GFI Software found that fears over cybercrime had risen substantially among the public. …

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