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23 Aug 2004

Is your webcam watching you? Sophos reports on worm that spies on innocent computer users

Eye
The W32/Rbot-GR worm can spy on users via their webcams.

Sophos has warned computer users about a worm that has the capability to use webcams to spy on them in their home or workplace.

The W32/Rbot-GR worm (also known as the "Peeping Tom" worm) spreads via network shares, exploiting a number of Microsoft security vulnerabilities, installing a backdoor Trojan horse as it travels.

Once installed on an infected computer remote hackers can easily gain access to the information on the PC's hard drive and steal passwords, as well as spy on innocent users via their webcam and microphone.

"More and more hackers are interested in spying on the people they manage to infect with their worms and Trojan horses. In the workplace, this worm opens up the possibilities of industrial espionage. At home it is equivalent to a Peeping Tom who invades your privacy by peering through your curtains," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "If your computer is infected and you have a webcam plugged in, then everything you do in front of the computer can be seen, and everything you say can be recorded."

Sophos believes that the W32/Rbot-GR worm is evidence of a growing trend of more and more malware spying on innocent home computer owners and poorly-protected businesses.

"With many home users keeping poorly-defended PCs in their bedroom, there is considerable potential for abuse. The message is simple - keep your PC protected against the latest threats with anti-virus software and firewalls, and if in any doubt unplug your webcam when you're not using it," continued Cluley.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.