The researchers also provided us with a copy of their proof-of-concept software.
In the video below, we demonstrate how the camera can be activated without triggering the telltale warning light.
For example, he demonstrated an attack last year on the software that controls Apple batteries, which causes the battery to discharge rapidly, potentially leading to a fire or explosion.
The FBI says it found software on Abrahams’s computer that allowed him to spy remotely on her and numerous other women. While her case was instant fodder for celebrity gossip sites, it left a serious issue unresolved.
Most laptops with built-in cameras have an important privacy feature — a light that is supposed to turn on any time the camera is in use.
But Wolf says she never saw the light on her laptop go on.
As a result, she had no idea she was under surveillance. While controlling a camera remotely has long been a source of concern to privacy advocates, conventional wisdom said there was at least no way to deactivate the warning light. Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico, said in a recent story in The Washington Post that the FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording — for several years.
Students reported seeing a ‘creepy’ green flicker that indicated that the camera was in use.
That helped to alert students to the issue, eventually leading to a lawsuit.
Indeed, the devices the researchers studied were similar to Mac Books involved in a notorious case in Pennsylvania in 2008.
In that incident, administrators at Lower Merion High School outside Philadelphia reportedly captured 56,000 images of students using the RAT installed on school-issued laptops.
The photos had been taken over a period of several months — without her knowledge — by the built-in camera on her laptop.