Remember my motto: “If everyone is out to get you, paranoia is the right attitude to have.” Any device that is connected to the public internet is under attack; usually from a gazillion bots hammering various ports, constantly looking for vulnerabilities to exploit. And that’s just one attack vector.
Other methods are used to attack from within, including compromised apps, phishing attempts and trojan horse attacks which require the user to do something they should not do. We’ve read of government spooks and their capability to hijack a Mac or PCs camera and microphone. Take a look at your Mac. Is someone looking back at you through the built-in FaceTime camera? Is someone listening to your conversations through the built-in microphone?
It could happen. It does happen. And short of some masking tape over the camera and mic, there may not be much you could do about it even if you found out about it. This week I came across a Mac app that works much like my much revered Little Snitch but for the Mac’s camera and microphone. It’s called Camera Guard.
What it does is basic. It stops any application from using the Mac’s camera or microphone. A small pop-up tells you whenever an app wants to use the camera or mic and you have the option to allow or deny. Think built-in whitelist so you can use FaceTime or Skype. In that regard, Camera Guard works much like Little Snitch, but only for specific functions.
Using Camera Guard is easier than Little Snitch.
Camera Guard’s website is pretty slick with mention of a few clever marketing items, including Deep Detective which controls access to the camera and mic, and reports both known and unknown attempts to use either one. This constant monitoring also adds another layer of protection against ransomeware. How? It doesn’t say. But the website is pretty.
Using the app is simple enough. Click the On button for camera or mic or both. Then, click the Deep Detective button for additional protection. The app also displays recently logged events.
All of this sounds great, right? I mean, if you have a level of paranoia to match mine, then you won’t mind paying a few bucks to keep out the bad guys from hijacking your Mac’s camera or microphone. The company that develops Camera Guard also publishes a number of other security-like applications. Some shred data so it cannot be recovered. Mac, Windows, Android, and even iPhone.
How much? $29.90 for one year of updates and basic support.
The problem I have with such resource and access blocking utilities is simple. There is no way to know if the app itself has been compromised and outsiders are still looking at me. With masking tape I know for sure.