NSA recommends physically removing iSight webcam from Apple laptops for security reasons
By End the Lie
In an undated National Security Agency (NSA) factsheet, the agency recommends having the built-in iSight webcam on Apple computers physically removed as a security measure.
It is worth noting that surveillance software capable of hijacking a webcam and microphone in real time is marketed directly to governments, including the U.S. government.
Interestingly, an NSA factsheet on hardening techniques for Mac OS X includes going as far as having the iSight camera physically removed from a device.
“The best way to disable an integrated iSight camera is to have an Apple-certified technician remove it,” the factsheet states.
The Atlantic points out that “if the NSA doesn’t trust a particular piece of hardware can’t be used for surveillance, it’s probably safe to assume an average user shouldn’t either.”
“Placing opaque tape over the camera is less secure but still helpful,” the factsheet continues.
It also states that users can remove /System/Library/Quicktime/QuicktimeUSBVDCDigitizer.component in order to block some programs from accessing the camera, though they say that such a method is “less persistent but still helpful.”
The factsheet also outlines how to disable the microphone without having it physically removed.
“To mute the internal microphone, open the Sound preference pane, select the Input tab, and set the microphone input volume level to zero,” it states.
“To disable the microphone, even if it means crippling the sound system, remove the following file from /System/Library/Extensions: IOAudioFamily.kext,” the factsheet states.
The NSA has many publicly available factsheets covering similar topics.
The Atlantic points out that these guides – aimed at protecting employees, contractors and associates – can also be used “to protect yourself from hackers — inside or outside the government.”
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