Disable Your Laptop’s Built-In Webcam To Protect Your Privacy

Disable Your Laptop’s Built-In Webcam To Protect Your Privacy

Windows: Webcams offer a window into your home, and they have been known to be targets for malware. If you have a built-in camera, here’s how to disable it and protect yourself.

Picture: Wollertz/Shutterstock

Malware can take over webcams, so there is potential for your camera to spy on you. You can easily disable an external webcam just by unplugging it, but things are a little different for integrated cameras.

The simple solution is to just pop a piece of tape over the lens, but this is not ideal. Sticky residue is left behind, and there is a risk that your improved privacy shield could fall off. You could turn to third-party software, but you can also disable a webcam from within Device Manager.

gHacks explains the whole process:

1. Tap on the Windows-key to open the start menu or start screen (Windows 8).

2. Type Device Manager and select the first result from the list.

3. If everything worked out fine, the Windows Device Manager should open.

4. If not, try the following approach instead: Use Windows-R to open the runbox on the system. Type devmgmt.msc and hit enter.

5. Locate Imaging Devices and there Integrated Camera. If it is not listed there, you may want to check under Sound, video and game controllers to see if it is listed there instead.

6. Right-click on Integrated Camera and select disable from the context menu.

7. Confirm the prompt that appears

8. The camera has been disabled and cannot be used anymore unless it is enabled first.

9. To enable it again, repeat the process but select enable from the right-click context menu to do so.

The technique is the same for webcams built into laptops and desktop monitors.

How to disable the webcam on a Windows PC [Ghacks]


  • But that still doesn’t offer as much security as the tape over the lens – how do you know the malware can’t get around your ,method?

    • No because recent Macs have a green LED that turns on to show the webcam is enabled. You’ll know when someone is using the webcam to spy on you if the light comes on for no reason.

      • If hackers can gain control of the webcam, don’t you think they’ve got the knowledge to disable the LED?

        • Yes. And sauce: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2520707/FBI-spy-webcam-triggering-indicator-light.html

          Ideally, the webcam indicator light should NOT be software controlled, it should be always hardware based so the very second the webcam is powered up or data sent back through to the PC, the light should come on.

          I feel tape is much better. You can get tape that doesn’t leave sticky marks (magic tape, I think it’s called?) and if it falls off, you’d notice (white tape on a black frame? Almost an eyesore!). Thinkgeek also sell light blocking stickers. Meant for standby lights and stuff when you’re trying to sleep at night and come off easily enough.

    • It’s just as necessary for a Mac as it would be for any other PC. Usually hackers target Windows and ignore Macs because Windows is a much bigger target, however this mainly applies to software hacks. Taking into account the fact that hardware (the camera) would be involved in this sort of hack, Macs actually becomes a bigger target because Apple is one of the biggest hardware manufacturers. I think I’ve read that Apple is second behind HP, but I’m not sure if I remember that correctly.

  • The lead photo got it spot on. A BAND-AID! No sticky residue on the lens, no delving into Device Manager every time you want to Skype you significant other, and no worrying that the black hats will bypass DM in software.

  • Interesting that the laptop in the photo is a Mac, with the name photoshopped out at the bottom of the screen.

  • lol if people want to spy on me laying with an epic double chin and blank expression, all right…. but…

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!