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Hacker arrested for spying on schoolgirls via their own webcams
Who's watching? Photo: DPA

Hacker arrested for spying on schoolgirls via their own webcams

Published: 17 Jul 2010 11:27 GMT+02:00
Updated: 17 Jul 2010 11:27 GMT+02:00

A man has been arrested for spying on more than 150 girls in their bedrooms by hacking into their computers and using their webcams to watch them, provoking warnings that others will be doing the same thing.

The hacker, from the Rhineland area, is suspected of having infected computers with a program enabling him to manipulate webcams, a spokesman for the Aachen state prosecutor confirmed on Friday.

Thomas Floß from the association of data protection advisors, discovered the case, according to a report in the Westfalenblatt newspaper. He often visits schools to talk with children about data protection and sensible behaviour on the internet.

His presentation includes a video showing how children can be spied on via their webcam.

“I want to show how dangerous webcams are,” he said. “I became suspicious when from February, increasing numbers of girls expressed the suspicion this was happening to them.”

Two girls told him the little lights on their webcams were not going out when they had finished using them. On examining one of the computers Floß discovered a so-called Trojan computer program which was being used to control the equipment, and which had been spread via the chat service ICQ.

The hacker had allegedly broken into the chat service account of one schoolgirl, and used it to choose which others he wanted to spy upon, and send the Trojan to their computers.

He was traced to the Aachen region and arrested – when police officers arrived at his home they found several live feeds to bedroom cameras running on his computer, the Westfalenblatt reported.

Floß said he believed many more people were doing the same thing. “I have visited 50 to 60 schools, and every time at least one schoolgirl tells me they have such a problem [with webcams not switching off],” he said.

He told the paper one should be careful to note whether a computer continues to run when it is no longer being used.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:30 July 17, 2010 by snorge
He didn't think of unplugging the USB connection and telling them how to do it????
15:14 July 17, 2010 by marimay
I keep a piece of tape over my webcam on my laptop at all times, lol.
15:15 July 17, 2010 by cklb
just buy a decent webcam that has a lid in front of the lns. if he wants to watch a black screen he will be satisfied by switching of his own computer :-p
10:41 July 18, 2010 by Frenemy
...silly girls! (you see that little light on your webcam? that indicates the camera is being used...). If you don't have a usage light on the cam or its integrated into your display then disable the damned thing (ie. Windows-device manager).

These days, best practices = assume you are being watched 24/7
13:02 July 18, 2010 by ron1amr
I remember my grandmother had her web cam setup and we were talking to family in Holland. I noticed the cam wondering and looking at all the people in the room.

So at that stage I suspected someone had control of my grandmothers computer.

But like other comments posted all they need do is unplug the webcam or cover the lens.
20:35 July 19, 2010 by romber58
Oh well,this will keep the BILD in business for a couple of days i suppose.
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