Finding out about naked pictures of yourself on the internet has got to be one of the most emotionally devastating experiences. “Not for me, I don’t take naked pictures,” you might be thinking. Yeah, but wait until the part where I tell you about hackers accessing your webcam without your knowledge and getting the footage from you changing. Or perhaps typing stories about hackers while in your underwear? Why you could be the star of a Russian web sitcom a la The Truman Show and have no idea. Think about that the next time you make pig noises in your room while playing your belly like a bongo drum.
You only start to get an idea of how rampant YouTube’s hacking option is when you begin to poke around looking for it and discover their wide array of uploads teaching noobs how to break into the computers of strangers.
This technique in particular is called a Remote Access Trojan, or RAT, and involves manipulating you into downloading malware that can create a portal from your computer to theirs. “Well, I don’t open emails from strangers,” you might say now. And that’s when I remind you that you have no idea who might want to peep into your privacy … classmates, friends, maybe even your dad. Ewwwwww! Sorry, that got a bit too Lifetime channel movie of the week there. But the reality is, this is pervasive technology and its easy to access and learn about on YouTube.
Of course, YouTube isn’t exactly complicit to this — hacker education and voyeurism go against their Terms of Service policy, but there is a widespread abuse of these policies and with the sheer amount of footage being uploaded to YouTube, it isn’t quite so easy to detect all of it.
The info of these hacking portals comes courtesy of a report* from a watchdog group called the Digital Citizens Alliance. In their report, they also make mention of forums where the learning curve is thrown out — they just sell your dad access to your webcam, virus already installed! The hackers call it slaving because, like slaves of not-so-ancient times, you are sold without your permission. And get this: you aren’t expensive. According to the report, access to girls’ webcams is $5, while access to boys is $1. Thought they weren’t gonna come after you because you have a penis? Wrong, muchacho, the creeps are buying your ass in bulk. And short of having your computer routinely swept for malware by a strong, effective service or covering your webcam at all times with tape, there’s not much you can do about it.
In all seriousness, this is the same sort of online harassment that drove Amanda Todd to suicide. Once the hackers had nude pics of her, they threatened to expose her unless she did more and more to appease them. It really is a sick and nasty game being played out online … and one of the doors to access this right now is YouTube. Maybe divert some extra attention to corralling this type of stuff, Google?
And share this to make sure the people who need to have their attention got do in fact get got.
*Realize that by clicking any of the links in this story, had we been nefarious, that would have been enough to download the said malware. Crazy.