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I have a webcam built in to my laptop with a little LED that lights up whenever an application uses the camera. Is this LED controlled on hardware level? If not, does Windows have special provisions that prevent a malicious webcam driver from disabling it?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Every webcam could be different, but, from everyone I have seen, the light is not controllable/accessible from the operating system - it is simply activated/deactivated on the webcam itself when the webcam is in use.

Based on this, not saying it is impossible, but, it is impossible on every laptop I have seen.


update:

Recent security attacks against Apple cameras on laptops show it is possible to reflash the firmware and disable the light on the camera.

Again, this is very dependent on hardware - if the light is activated inline with the camera, it won't be possible to deactivate. If like Apple, the light is just turned on/off as part of an unrelated firmware command, you will be able to patch it out.

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Related over on Security.SE site: Can webcams be turned on without the indicator light? – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Oct 30 '14 at 15:59

I think it's more probable to be a malfunction in your software, the driver, or it can be a hardware issue too. So it's possible to be a specific malware that is doing this, it's possible but very, very rare this to happen.

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