HP has introduced new laptops today, and some feature a basic but important security feature — a built-in webcam cover.
The upcoming fifth-generation EliteBook 830, 840, and 850 from the EliteBook 800 series will all include a webcam cover, according to The Verge. Notably, the built-in webcam cover will not be featured in the touchscreen versions of the EliteBooks, as the bezel won’t be large enough to accommodate a cover.
As the Verge notes, while this is the first time HP has included physical webcam covers on its laptops, HP isn’t the first company to do this — a recently introduced Lenovo ThinkPad includes a webcam cover, as well.
Most modern laptops include webcams, so the addition of a webcam cover is a simple — but important — step in protecting one’s privacy. Hackers are able to access webcams to watch you, wherever you may be.
Protect Your Webcam
Instances of this happening may be rare, but we’re not really sure how rare — if a hacker has accessed your webcam feed through malware or some other technique, you’ll likely never know. Some laptops have certain precautionary measures in place, but even those aren’t to be trusted completely.
For instance, a MacBook has a small light next to the webcam, which is supposed to turn on whenever the webcam is on. However, in the past, hacks have been demonstrated that allow the camera to operate independent of the light.
An Easy Fix
There are a number of webcam covers that can be purchased online, but the easiest — albeit inelegant — solution is to rip off a piece of masking tape and put it over your webcam. Problem solved.
[More about the tape trick — and other simple suggestions — can be found in our article Five Simple Ways To Improve Your Cybersecurity.]
If you’re concerned about the effectiveness of your webcam cover, there’s a simple, obvious test — turn on your front camera, and you’ll be able to see what any hackers might be seeing.