The Washington Post has recently reported that the FBI is capable of watching suspects through their webcams without activating the indicator light. Citing the case of an elusive suspect in a series of bomb threats to high profile locations throughout the United States, they have suggested that the FBI can remotely collect evidence from a suspect’s home through their webcam.
FBI hackers can exploit weaknesses in computer programs downloading malware onto the target computer. This is typically done with a phishing scam where the suspect will unknowingly open a link in an email that will download the malware onto their computer. The malware will then activate the webcam without triggering the indicator light and begin sending information to the FBI.
Along with new techniques for digitally tracking suspects and collecting hard-drive data, this practice has raised concerns as it may violate the United States Constitution in certain cases. The 4th Amendment grants freedom from unlawful search and seizure. Without even entering a suspect’s home the FBI is capable of digitally searching and seizing their home, their hard-drives and possessions. Some are concerned that the method of obtaining this information could cause innocent individuals’ computers to be compromised.
The method of collection is hardly perfect, requiring the individual in question to unknowingly access a malicious link. It has not proven to be a very effective means of tracking suspects.