Privacy and security are top priorities for some security experts that are aware of threat actors’ capabilities, so I’m not surprised that the FBI Director James Comey uses to cover his laptop webcam with a tape.
During the Q&A session at Kenyon College last week, the FBI Director explained that he uses tape to mitigate the danger of cyber espionage. It’s clear that the FBI Director Comey fears possible hacking campaign operated by nation-state hackers, Russia and China are most dreaded adversary in this sense.
During his speech, Comey has remarked in many passages that “absolute privacy” is a serious obstacle for the investigations conducted by the law enforcement.
In December, the FBI Director suggested the implementation of encryption techniques that could help authorities to defeat the end-to-end encryption used to protect the communications.
“The government doesn’t want a backdoor, but [it] hopes to get to a place where if a judge issues an order, the company figures out how to supply that information to the judge and figures out on its own the best way to do that,” said Comey in December. “It is a business model question,” he said. “The question we have to ask is: Should they change their business model?”Comey asking for the IT firms to be compliant with court orders by choosing the appropriate technology.
During the speech at the Kenyon College, Comey admitted fearing smarter hackers that could gain the control of the web camera in his personal laptop.
“I saw something in the news, so I copied it. I put a piece of tape — I have obviously a laptop, personal laptop — I put a piece of tape over the camera. Because I saw somebody smarter than I am had a piece of tape over their camera,” reported NPR.
Comey admits he puts a piece of tape over the webcam lens on his laptop #KenyonCSAD
— The Kenyon Collegian (@KenyonCollegian) 7 aprile 2016
Below the hilarious tweet published by the ACLU chief technologist Christopher Soghoian.
Comey is aware that a nation-state hackers could use zero-day exploits to hack his computer and access any its resource, even the webcam. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) itself has in its arsenal malicious codes that are able to carry on surveillance activities of this type.
FBI Director Comey has created a “warrant-proof webcam” that will thwart lawful surveillance should he ever be investigated. Shame on him.
— Christopher Soghoian (@csoghoian) 7 aprile 2016
In February 2014, a new collection of documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed the existence of a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve that was operated by the Five Eyes intelligence agencies since 2008.
The news was reported by The Guardian, Optic Nerve is a program that allowed the GCHQ agency to collect images from webcam from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally in a six-month period in 2008 alone.
” The collection of webcam material was probably secured by getting an “external warrant” under paragraph four of section 8 of Ripa.” “But section 8 permits GCHQ to perform more sweeping and indiscriminate trawls of external data if a minister issues a “certificate” along with the warrant. It allows ministers to sanction the collection, storage and analysis of vast amounts of material, using technologies that barely existed when Ripa was introduced.” reported The Guardian.
You must be aware that intelligence agencies have a number of weapons in their arsenal to target you. It is quite easy for them compromise your computer and exfiltrate sensitive data … and a tape on your webcam will not save you.
(Security Affairs – FBI Director, Privacy)