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Old 12-20-2013, 02:24 AM   #1
displace
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Covertly activate a webcam without turning on its LED?


http://rt.com/usa/apple-mac-webcam-fbi-508/

Okay, with these kind of worrying news I can't help, but wonder...
Is it possible to covertly activate a webcam without turning on the webcam LED on a laptop with a linux OS i.e. debian or arch? How difficult would this be to pull off on a linux PC? What would a remote attacker need to do to achieve this in linux? Does he have to replace the webcam kernel driver modules? Can it be done from sysfs? The news post suggests that the webcam's microcontroller was reprogrammed - can that be done on a linux pc, possibly from userspace? I take it this would differ for each webcam vendor.


Thoughts?
 
Old 12-20-2013, 03:50 AM   #2
acid_kewpie
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The ability to do this will have nothing to do with the OS running on the system. It's down to how the cameras hardware interfaces are exposed to the system as a whole. You'd need to have a sutiable level of privilege on the host OS, but again exploiting that wouldn't relate to the end goal you have in mind once those rights are obtained.

Last edited by acid_kewpie; 12-20-2013 at 03:52 AM.
 
Old 12-20-2013, 04:34 AM   #3
aus9
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may be a good reason to have a bit of tape handy?

2) some bios allow you to disable the webcam and/or internal mic
 
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Old 12-22-2013, 04:38 AM   #4
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acid_kewpie: Can it be done by modifying the linux webcam driver (the UVC kernel module) or does the webcam's microcontroller have to be reprogrammed? I mean can the led be controlled from a driver or not?

aus9: Yeah, I used a thick black insulation tape on my old laptop. Still, there are external USB webcams...
 
Old 12-22-2013, 05:32 AM   #5
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IMHO now we know you have an uvc compliant webcam things are looking better

Code:
su
modinfo uvcvideo | grep parm

(for me result no led)
parm:           clock:Video buffers timestamp clock
parm:           nodrop:Don't drop incomplete frames (uint)
parm:           quirks:Forced device quirks (uint)
parm:           trace:Trace level bitmask (uint)
parm:           timeout:Streaming control requests timeout (uint)
 
Old 12-22-2013, 10:53 AM   #6
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My old logitech camera has a shutter that you can swing over the camera just to be extra sure. My netbook webcam has a similar shutter built-in.

The only remaining problem is the mic.
 
Old 12-22-2013, 08:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aus9 View Post
may be a good reason to have a bit of tape handy?

2) some bios allow you to disable the webcam and/or internal mic
I'm told a small band-aid works good. You can color it with a sharpie
 
Old 12-23-2013, 11:29 AM   #8
displace
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Well you could just physically disconnect the camera and mic, if you don't plan to use them. I did this in one of my old laptops.
 
  


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