Facebook chief Zuckerberg covers his webcam with tape - should you?

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg

A photograph of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been released showing tape being used to cover his MackBook Pro's webcam and microphone. The photo was uploaded to celebrate Instagram reaching 500 million users on Tuesday.

Requests for commentary on the photo have not been disclosed by Facebook, but the photo shows that even the tech-savvy founder is worried about being spied on by hackers.

Zuckerberg isn't the first public figure to support the idea. According to whistleblower Edward Snowden, the GCHQ ran a program called “Optic Nerve” which used Yahoo web chats to capture images from millions of account around the world. James Comey, director of the FBI, has also revealed that he tapes over his webcam.

“I think Zuckerberg is sensible to take these precautions. As well as intelligence agencies and conventional online criminals who might be interested in targeting his billions, there are no doubt plenty of mischievous hackers who would find it amusing to spy upon such a high-profile figure,” said Graham Cluley, online security expert.

Hackers attack webcams with attachments containing malware, which would allow them to gain remote access of the functions on a victim's computer that include the webcam.

“[Trojans have] been one of the most popular types of malware on every operating system, for quite a long time,” Lysa Myers, security researcher at ESET, said. “The best ways to protect against them are to update all your software on your machine regularly, and use reputable security software, including anti-malware and a firewall.”

“It makes absolute sense to put tape on the webcam. In fact, I don't know why manufacturers don't sell laptops with an in-built slider to cover it,” said Professor Alan Woodward, computer security expert at the University of Surrey.