Webcam users being hacked by attackers
For many a hacker, hacking webcams has become the virtual equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel; it's so easy, even a script kiddy (that is, a wannabe hacker that uses prewritten scripts by hackers better than him in order to indulge with hacking-type activities minus the effort and know-how) can do it too provided that they have the proper applications and programs at hand.
With that in mind, it's surprising to know that many webcam users don't believe that their webcams are vulnerable to hack attacks. They just couldn't wrap their minds around the idea of hackers infiltrating and controlling that piece of hardware when, just a few years ago, users couldn't make certain hardware work because they misplaced the disk containing the hardware's drivers. To them, browsers can be breached. Operating systems can be breached. Webcams? Forget it.
Webcams wide open without password protection just waiting for hackers
Contrary to that popular and wrong belief, it's very much possible for a hacker to infiltrate and take control of your webcam without having personal contact with your PC. Technology has come a long way, and hackers, more often than not, have a lot in common with the inventors and developers of the technology that people have become so dependent upon. The only real difference between a developer and a hacker is that one creates and innovates while the other manipulates and destroys.
You may ask yourself, "Why would hackers hack my webcam?" A better question would be, "Why would hackers hack?" Some do it for fun, while others do it for intentional harm. The harmful, malicious hackers are known by the hacker community as black hat hackers. By the sensationalist media outlets, they are referred to as cyber criminals.
In any case, the black hat hackers infiltrate webcams in order to obtain the personal information of their intended victim, be it photos of the victim himself or herself or photos of his or her location. Some also do this because they're cyber voyeurs.
Moreover, in order to prevent webcam hacks, you'll have to do the following. First, webcams are most easily hijacked if it's run on an insecure system. Using common sense when you're running applications will decrease your risk of being hacked by a whole lot. Installing a firewall like Zone Alarm is a step in the right direction as well.
An anti-virus and anti-spyware combo can also help safeguard your system from malware that was intentionally developed to compromise it. Be careful what you download over the Internet too, because that's a sure-fire way of getting hacked regardless of the protection you already have. Finally, invest in a webcam with a modesty shield, i.e. a built-in visor that slides down over the lens.