My opinion is that this is another case of everybody getting all excited about one very specific issue.
The problem here is really much, much larger and a lot less newsworthy than getting everyone excited about their webcam. It’s essentially sensationalistic journalism.
You can cover your lens if you want to, but that really, really misses the point.
Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
Accessing your camera
Your camera can only be manipulated if the hackers are able to put malicious software on your computer. Malicious software then controls the camera and does whatever it wants with the resulting images.
We already have a term for that kind of software: it’s called “malware”.
In fact, we already have tools to deal with that. They’re called anti-malware software.
The bottom line is that regardless of what the software is doing, it’s nothing more than malware.
Malware can do … anything
It could record your keystrokes. It could corrupt your data, encrypt your data, or delete your data; it could send spam or do any of a thousand other things you don’t want to have happen. Just one of those thousands of possible things that could happen could be turning on your webcam.
So, what’s much, much more important than covering your camera is to stay safe from malware in the first place. Not just webcam malware but all malware.
How do you do that?
Well, it’s the old litany you keep hearing over and over from people like me. Keep your system up to date, run anti-malware tools and keep them up to date, get behind a firewall, and use common sense. Don’t open attachments or downloads that you aren’t 100% sure are absolutely legitimate.
My concern here is that whenever we focus on some random specific technique to deal with one random specific type of malware, we overlook what we should really be doing to keep all malware off of our machines.
If malware is on your machine and turning on the webcam? Then sure, covering the webcam will stop it from being able to see anything, but you still have malware on your computer! It could be doing way, way more than just turning on the webcam.
So do what it takes to stay safe overall and don’t obsess on any single particular type of malware.
If you have to obsess, obsess on them all.