During a program yesterday recognizing the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division, James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), acknowledged that he continues to cover the webcam on his computer with a piece of tape and says that others should do the same.
Asked about cyber threats during an on-stage conversation in Washington, D.C., with John P. Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Comey (pictured above) said everyone should take sensible precautions in the face of an ever-larger “attack surface.” When Carlin followed up with a question about whether Comey still has tape over his webcam, the FBI director said, “Heck, yeah.”
Despite being “much mocked for that, it’s not crazy that the FBI director cares about personal security as well,” Comey said. All of the desktop cameras in the agency’s offices also have lids that can be lowered to prevent unauthorized video surveillance, he added.
‘A Kind of Band-Aid’
Comey is hardly the only high-profile individual known to cover his webcam for security reasons. In June, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a photo of himself at his desk in an announcement that Facebook-owned Instagram had reached 500 million users per month. In that photo, it was clear to see that the laptop webcam on the desk to his right was covered up.
Operations professional Chris Olson quickly noted on Twitter that the Zuckerberg photo showed three notable features about the CEO’s computer habits: “camera covered with tape,” “mic jack covered with tape” and “email client is Thunderbird.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has long advocated that computer users protect themselves against unwanted surveillance by taping over their webcams when not in use. After a federal judge rejected a government request to hack a criminal suspect’s computer and camera in 2013, the…