How to Tell If Someone Has Hacked Your Laptop Camera

Ali Raza  - Expert Tech Journalist
Last updated: November 8, 2023
Read time: 6 minutes

Learn the tell-tale signs to know if your laptop webcam has been hacked and is being used to spy on your computer activities, plus how you can stay safe.


The laptop’s built-in camera feature has made video calling and conferencing more effortless. However, it is one of the easiest targets for cybercriminals. In most cases, clicking a malicious link allows remote malware to install on your laptop, giving the spy the internal control of your webcam and access to your personal data. Although, it is difficult to detect the presence of any such malware. However, some signs clearly tell if someone has hacked your laptop webcam. This guide includes all the possible warning signs alongside the best possible ways to prevent webcam hacking.

Have you ever had a crazy feeling that someone could be watching you while seated on your laptop doing what you do best? Well, probably you may be paranoid, but there’s a high chance that the camera of your computer has been hacked. Scary right?

A laptop camera is one of the significant computer accessories that you can use in various ways. However, it also poses the most serious threat to your privacy invasion. If someone gets control of your laptop camera, the hacker uses it to spy on you, with the consequences well documented.

Some experts have gone as far as to argue that users have probably already lost the war on privacy.

However, nothing is lost yet, as all you have to do is to upgrade your security protocols. Primarily, you need to install a quality VPN such as ExpressVPN and use some common sense to protect your privacy.

Therefore, if you must be worried that someone is spying on your cell phone or laptop webcam, then you’re not alone.

Interestingly, only a few years back, Mark Zuckerberg was pictured covering his laptop camera with some piece of tape.

Now, imagine the boss of a giant tech firm like Facebook, with probably the best tech support to back him up, worried about webcam hackers. That tells it’s something that you must be cautious about, at the very best.

6 Signs to tell if your webcam has been hacked

Tell if Someone Has Hacked your Laptop Camera

So, how can you tell that your laptop camera has been hacked? Here are some of the signs you should look for;

1. Storage Files

Unfortunately, most people are unaware of where the files from the camera are stored on the hard drive.

Therefore, you need to check that folder in the webcam settings, and if you realize that some of the files there are the ones you never recorded, you have probably been hacked.

2. Check the laptop camera light

One of the easiest (and cheapest as it doesn’t require you to invest in any software) ways to tell that your camera is under attack is by observing the camera indicator light.

Under normal circumstances, the indicator light only turns on when the camera gets activated.

However, if the light turns on during odd times, most probably when you’re not using the camera, it should be a tell-tale sign that you’re under watch and someone is spying on you using your laptop camera.

When that happens, quickly check the active apps in the background and check if they are responsible for turning the webcam on.

Mostly, no legitimate app should authorize such action without your permission, and hence, it should be enough reason to delete the suspicious app.

3. Scan your computer for malicious apps

Another way that you can detect spyware on your laptop is by running a regular scan for malware.

Several top malware scanners are available to help you, such as Norton or TotalAV, which can catch all the instances of malware in your device that can spy on you.

That way, you’ll be able to detect any type of spyware on your PC.

4. Examine browser extensions

Does your camera light turn on when you open your browser? Something could be wrong with your browser extension, and it needs to be fixed (and also, consider switching to a secure web browser).

You need to reboot your laptop and then launch the browser. Then, you can start deactivating your extensions one by one while you reboot and launch until you can identify the culprit.

5. Is your webcam process running?

Another easy way to see if someone has hacked your laptop cam is to examine your webcam utility. Proceed to your Task Manager and check all the currently running programs in the Processes tab.

If you find it, you don’t have to panic, as it could be a default setting. Therefore, you need to test by restarting the computer and again checking the webcam utility to see if it has automatically started.

Also, you need to check your webcam security settings and examine whether they have been altered.

6. Check how your internet data flows

Your network’s data flow can be a good indicator of how much data you use for an online session.

When you see sudden spikes in the network traffic, it could mean the data is being used without you knowing it.

Keep an eye on the internet data you use, which is easy to do as most of the ISPs provide you with a dashboard that shows the data used.

If you see any unusual or unexpected spike, it could be because your webcam is spying on you and sending data back to the hackers.

How to avoid webcam spying

If you haven’t recognized any of the signs, it doesn’t mean that you’re a ghost and not vulnerable.

Webcam attacks are prevalent, and you can fall victim to them anytime. Thankfully, there are a plethora of protective measures to keep you safe, and they include;

Install a quality antivirus

Most cyber-attacks and hacking attempts involve spyware, Trojan, malware, or virus infection.

Therefore, you should ensure that you install dependable antivirus protection (AVG, Kaspersky, and Norton are our top recommendations).

Enable firewall

Just like the name suggests, a firewall acts as a wall, helping to guard your device, watch network traffic, and prevent dubious connections.

Ensure that the default firewall system of your operating system is not only on but also works. Besides, you may consider trying some free third-party firewall software as it tends to provide added security.

Secure your WiFi networks

One of the common (and cheapest as it doesn’t cost them many resources) routes that most hackers use to gain access to your device is public WiFi networks.

Some even go as far as opening hotspots to lure users into a trap and slide malware into their system. To keep yourself safe whenever on WiFi networks, always use a VPN to protect yourself from unwanted snoopers.

Cover your webcam

Yes, tape it! Like Zuckerberg, the easiest and most reliable means to prevent a hacker from watching you via your laptop camera is covering it.

Also, you can opt for a dedicated webcam cover (you will find many good ones on Amazon and eBay), or if you are in the US, you can get webcam stickers that EFF (The Electronic Frontier Foundation) sells.

I recommend EFF stickers because our site is a supporter of it, as this non-profit organization is fighting for the digital rights of users at its very best.

So, by purchasing their stickers, not only will you be able to cover your webcam but also support good movement.

Be observant and never fall into a phishing trap

Some hackers may want to act smart and pretend to be support agents trying to help with your system’s problem that requires examination. That’s a trap; don’t buy it. They could try to maneuver their way into your device to introduce malware.

Moreover, others may go the extra mile to send malicious links or data through emails that, once you click, permit them to access your device and camera. Therefore, you should be observant and smart about what links you click on in your emails or anywhere online.


That’s it. You just learned how to upset hackers or any third party looking to spy on your laptop webcam. Well done.

Notably, personal information is slowly growing in demand, and unfortunately, cybercriminals and hackers have not gone to sleep yet.

They’re constantly looking for targets that they can exploit, and your laptop camera is one of the easiest ones. So, keep up your game, and stay secure.

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About the Author

Ali Raza

Ali Raza

Expert Tech Journalist
6 Posts

Experienced in web journalism and marketing, Ali Raza holds a master's degree in finance and enjoys writing about cryptocurrencies and fintech. He is very passionate about the internet privacy. Ali's work has been published in several valuable publications.

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