Laptops are a convenient way to get work done while on the go, but did you know that they could be spying on you? It sounds like a conspiracy, but there are several ways that malicious attackers (or friends or family members) could spy on you, especially if they have access to your laptop.
1. Traffic Sniffing
Traffic sniffing often happens on a WiFi level. Malicious attackers will read the traffic signals coming to and from your laptop to derive what you are doing and what information you're sending. To defeat this type of spy work, always use encrypted websites (HTTPS rather than HTTP) and only connect to encrypted WiFi connections; an open, public WiFi connection could be broadcasting all your traffic.
2. Key Logging
A key logger is a physical device or digital application that captures all of the keys you press. Key loggers can be used to see your emails, instant messages, or passwords and login names. Key loggers can be installed remotely by malicious attackers, but they're also commonly installed by snooping parents, spouses, and friends. They can reveal anything that you physically type on your keyboard, but most virus detection programs will reveal them.
3. Camera Viewing
Your camera may not be as secure as you think. There are software systems that can be used to activate your web camera when you're on WiFi, watching everything you do without turning on your camera's "ready" light. If you want to protect yourself, the only option is often to get a laptop camera blocker, as you can't always tell when the camera is on and recording. This does require a backdoor on your machine, so a virus detection program may reveal the exploit.
4. Active Microphones
Just as with cameras, criminals can also be listening on your microphone. In fact, some apps may actually ask for access to your laptop's microphone and listen in so they can launch features and better serve you. This information can be collected and sent to servers, so it may be detrimental to those want to be private. To protect yourself, refuse to grant access to your laptop's internal microphone to applications, and consider turning off your physical microphone when not in use.
If you want to improve the privacy of your laptop, you need to be careful about how you use it. Continue to scan it for malicious programs regularly and invest in webcam covers and privacy shields.