Hardware

A neat way to protect your webcam and mic from hackers

At my desk, as I write this, I can count two cameras and two microphones pointing at me. They’re not in use 99% of the day, and yet there they are: just waiting to be hijacked. And while I don’t doubt that most hackers have more interesting things to do than watching me 24 hours per day like a Poundland Truman Show, the risk is real. If Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg feels the need to cover his webcam, it’s probably worth at least a passing thought, right?

The existing options aren’t particularly elegant though. Mark Zuckerberg is worth around $70 billion, and he’s still using a bit of tape over the webcam. Surely there must be a better way?

Yep: Nope.

Nope is a new campaign on Kickstarter which promises to block both your device’s microphone and webcam in a surprisingly elegant way. The Nope Webcam Cover is an aluminium window that sticks to your phone/laptop’s camera. The idea is you can flick it open when you need it, and frustrate hackers when you don’t. It would be nice if it had an unnerving message engraved on the inside to send any unwanted spies – “I know you’re there” or something, but sadly they’ll just see nothing. It comes in black or silver to match your device.

The Nope Sound Blocker is smarter. It’s shaped like a 3.5mm headphone adapter and sits in the headphone jack. When most devices think a headset is connected, they disable the onboard microphone. Again, if you need to use the mic, just pull out the adapter, and you’re good to go. The Nope’s creators seem aware that they could be easily misplaced, so have come up with a key fob that can hold two Nope Sound Blockers at a time.

The Kickstarter campaign has almost reached its funding target – at the time of writing, it’s just $2,000 short of its $20,000 goal with 40 days to run. The cheapest way of getting both the Webcam Cover and the Sound Blocker is to pledge $25 for the “essential pack”. This comes with three Webcam Covers, two Sound Blockers and the keychain to store them in.

As always with crowdfunded projects, be smart: only pledge what you can afford to lose if things take a bad turn. While it seems the creators have a history of successful Kickstarter projects, bad things can and do happen.


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