Almost a quarter of online users always give apps and services permission to access their microphone or webcam, according to a global study of 15,000 people.
However, overall awareness of webcam security is promisingly high, with nearly six-in-ten worried that someone could be watching them through their webcam without them knowing, and 60 per cent concerned that this could be done via malicious software, said the study conducted by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky.
But the results come at a time when there is higher usage of video conferencing platforms amid the pandemic.
Understandably, with these technologies and apps helping people to navigate the events of the past year across work, social and entertainment needs, people have expressed a willingness to allow app access to their microphone and camera.
These tools have served as an enricher and facilitator of everyone’s sudden digital transitions, leading to 27 per cent of people aged 25-34 always permitting access, according to Kaspersky research.
This is less common among older age demographics, however, with 38 per cent respondents aged 55 years and older revealing they never give apps and services such access.
“For sure, many people aren’t instantly familiar with security protocols related to webcam usage and cybersecurity processes. However, what we are observing now is a strong positive trend of increased awareness around online safety and potential threats,” Marina Titova, Head of Consumer Product Marketing at Kaspersky, said in a statement.
“This leads to more proactive consumer behaviour like taking preventive actions and checking permissions before allowing video and microphone access.”
The best way to balance sufficient caution, while continuing to benefit from modern means of communication, would be to exercise mindful consideration around the apps and services people are using and what permissions they request.
For example, if a video calling app has camera permissions that would make sense. But if there is an app without any relevant functionality requesting access to a person’s mic for no justifiable reason, it might be better to investigate and explore permissions.
Users can take various measures to feel safer while using webcams.
Some of the measures recommended by Kaspersky include investing in a simple, dedicated webcam cover to provide peace of mind when the tool is not being used and using an effective security solution that offers advanced protection and covers multiple devices including PC, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.