Lately I've been reading about the “Dark Web” (Tor's network, not the “Deep Web”). Although I seem to have forgotten where it was, I was reading some blog post that said something like this:

    While browsing the dark web it is recommended to place tape over your    
    webcam, since it is common knowledge that hackers can watch you while   
    you browse. 

Now, I don't even plan on visiting any “Dark” websites, but since the dark web is the same as the regular web (other than being exclusive to Tor), this question is more just about any website.

I know that in order for a website to infect a computer that loads it the hacker would have to insert some malicious code (java, flash, javascript, ect) that would cause the computer to download and run an infected remote file, giving the hacker access to potentially anything (well, I guess the website could request access to your webcam, but most browsers would ask the user first before granting access). Is it really very easy for a hacker to implant malicious code into a website and gain access to your webcam, keystrokes, or anything of the like when the user has a modern browser and decent security settings enabled on the browser (dark web or normal web)?

  • It would require exploitation of an arbitrary code execution vulnerability in the browser for this to be possible. – bwDraco Nov 13 '16 at 23:55
  • Also without any exploitation or arbitrary code execution vulnerabilities, some webcam would actually run a webserver without any authentication required. (yes they do unfortunately exist). – Darius Nov 14 '16 at 0:17
  • 1
    I am watching you right now. – Tyler Durden Jun 14 '17 at 2:22

I'm very confliced in how to address your question. The source you are quoting is flawed in a number of ways, and really comes across as the observation of an alien, studying humans, and making assertions without really understanding the nuance of the game playing out before them.

Lets start with some facts:

1) yes, malware can allow attackers to view streams emanating from the webcam.

2) With current PC design, under standard circumstances, an attacker CANNOT access your webcam without deploying malware or otherwise tricking you into executing malicious code on your system. Some software used by schools or enterprises to keep tabs on laptops they issue may blur this line, but in that case that software is the malware.

3) without installing malware, a well-situated adversary may see traffic you send or receive as it passes across the network, but they have no insight into your PC itself, nor control over it. This is why keeping your system free of malware is important.

4) Browsing the darkweb is a bit more prone to malicious content (content that tries to install malware on your system; aka drive-by downloads) but no more so than browsing for free icons/wallpaper, or images of an adult nature.

so, to sum up, the deep dank places in the Internet are more lawless exploitative and more caution and common sense is required. That said, the assertion in the quote is laughable, because there is nothing about the darkweb that provides an adversary more control over your system than surfing the standard internet, and using the internet does not, in normal circumstances, allow someone access to your webcam.

After all that, I do recommend you put a piece of tape over your webcam. It has nothing to do with Darknets, but simply with malware in general. Same reason FBI director James Comey does: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/08/473548674/why-the-fbi-director-puts-tape-over-his-webcam

  • I kind of assumed that that was the case. I kind of figured that the quote was deeply flawed, but just wanted to double check since the same logic could apply to any normal website as well. Thanks! – user71416 Nov 14 '16 at 17:26

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