Could your iPad and iPhone Camera be used to Spy on You?

FaceTime CameraAs I was perusing my daily news topics, I came across a frightening article from the Washington Post that proves I’m not being paranoid about my computers’ internal web cams. I actually have a Post-it note covering the camera lens on both my Mac and my MacBook Pro because I’ve long feared that someone could have the capability of activating my web cam without my knowledge. What I didn’t think about was the possibility of it happening on my iPad, too.

According to the Washington Post, it has been confirmed and demonstrated by researchers from Johns Hopkins University that the iSight camera on older models (2008 and prior) can be remotely activated without the user’s knowledge by bypassing the internal light that indicates the camera is in use. This study shows that the hack is capable on many computers, but was only demonstrated on Apple computers.

This brings me to the iPad. If researchers were able to activate the iSight camera inside a Mac, what is stopping hackers from figuring out how to activate the FaceTime camera on your iPad or iPhone? Presumably, Apple’s strict guidelines on what apps can or can’t be officially downloaded would help curb potentially malicious invasions of privacy. However, we all know how much people like to jailbreak their devices and download unsecure programs. Plus, Apple has been known to let apps slip by that include content not allowable under the company’s guidelines.

The FaceTime camera doesn’t have an indicator light, either. So, hackers (or the government) could potentially find a way to access your camera without your knowledge and record your every movement, conversation, and whisper. You thought location tracking was creepy.

Maybe I’m just being paranoid about the possibility of someone being able to access your mobile device’s camera without your knowledge. But think about this; I’ve had Post-it notes covering my computers’ iSight cameras for a decade. People called me paranoid back then. Guess who was wrong about that.


About Lory: Writer of all things app related, traveler of the space-time continuum, baker of really great cookies. Follow me @appaholik

  • Sara

    But how do I know if I am being hacked, viewed through my ipad? And if so how do I stop it?

    • Lory Gil

      You don’t know. That’s what is so creepy about it. The best way to keep malicious content out of your iPad is to only download trusted apps and files into your device. Delete apps that you don’t trust. Never give permission to unknown apps to access your Background App Refresh feature.

  • Andrei

    Bummer. On the other hand the moment you leave your house you’re spied on. Perhaps not on such a personal level. But should any SS take an interest in you, they sure will find a way to tap into your life. Unless hackers figure a way to hack your stuff & do it for fun. Bummer either way. And we ourselves chose to come to this & bought the devices we have.