The Dangers of Webcam Spying and How to Avoid Them, AVG

Spy Game: The Dangers of Webcam Hacking and How to Avoid Them

by Monica Mateiu on August 11, 2017

I spy with my little eye… a couple tucking their child in, late at night. As creepy as it sounds, webcam hacking is a real danger, and peeping Toms could be watching your every move, in the privacy of your own home.

So how many potential spycams do you own? Your webcam, smartphone camera, and home surveillance system can all be used to spy on you. From your crazy ex to hackers looking to capture your personal details, anyone can easily hijack your webcam and cast you as the lead actor in their own reality show.

I smell a RAT

Ever had someone fix your PC remotely? You call customer support, follow a few simple instructions, and someone at the other end of the line — and often at the other end of the world — will access your computer to fix it.

Remote administration software is quite common, but it’s not always used for good. And when it’s programmed to break into computers, we call it a Remote Access Trojan (RAT). Malware like SubSeven, Back Orifice, Poison-Ivy, ProRat — and the list goes on — are the ultimate hacking weapons.

There’s more to email security than choosing a strong password. Webcam spy software spreads through freeware, spam emails with infected attachments, or links to fake websites. Malicious executable files can be combined with legitimate software to install malware in the background, without your input or your knowledge.

Once the Trojan is on your PC, your cyber stalker can see what you do online, read messages, capture your screen and keystrokes, and take full control of your computer, including your camera. But the little green light will warn you of any suspicious webcam activity, right? Wrong. Hackers can turn them off, so you may never realize you’re being watched.

Smile, you could be on camera!

Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t stop here. RATs can be bought online and YouTube has thousands of videos on how to use them. Schools secretly monitoring students, PC rental places spying on customers, or government agencies following your every move — from your jealous ex to creepy sextortionists, anyone can train to become a cyber spy.

Fingerprint locks aren’t as secure as you’d think, so protecting your smartphone with a strong password is a must. If they gain access to your phone, snoopers can install spying apps to view your messages, eavesdrop on calls, and see your location. And with a little more know-how, they can watch you through your phone camera, even when your screen is turned off.

As for surveillance cameras, you’d be surprised how many people don’t even bother to change their default password. Security cameras are just as vulnerable as your computer, with the added “bonus” that the footage can be streamed live on the internet, for the whole world to see. A simple search on Shodan will reveal all unprotected devices connected to the Internet of Things.

So with very little effort, cyber criminals can track down and hack into any unsecured camera in your home, to watch you and your family during your most intimate moments.

How to prevent webcam hacking

So we know that cameras can give snoopers a look into your private life. What can you do to stop webcam spies?

  1. Cover your webcam, or disable it if you don’t use it — it’s been reported that even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and former FBI director James Comey put tape over theirs
  2. Always use an up-to-date antivirus, and make sure your firewall is enabled
  3. Only use your cameras over a secure internet connection
  4. Keep your operating system, browser, and software up to date
  5. Don’t click on suspicious links and don’t chat with strangers online
  6. Be wary of fake emails which appear to be sent from trusted sources and ask you to download attachments, click on a link, or disclose any personal details

Scolopendra Cingulata—the Centipede That Can Bite

Use this article as a bug identification guide should you meet this Mediterranean creature in your travels, as the Scolopendra is a dangerous little pest and one to be avoided where at all possible.

The escolopendra, as it is known as in Spanish, has the full title of Scolopendra cingulata and lives in mountainous Mediterranean regions. It is often found under stones, rocks and fallen tree trunks where it rests during the day, only to come out at nighttime to feed.

Voracious feeders, they eat cricket, worms, spiders and moths, and have been known to devour young mice. They are not terribly sociable creatures and have been known to partake of a little cannibalism, occasionally eating each other.

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Officially classified as centipedes, they have long bodies containing many flattened segments. Their colouring is brown to yellow or orange, depending on age and sex. Young ones are more brightly coloured, and females are darker (as well as larger) than males.

They grow to 10 — 15 cm long (4″ — 6″) and can live for up to an incredible 7 years!

Mating Habits

The Scolopendra hibernates during the winter months, and their breeding season starts in March or April.

The male spins a web and deposit his spermatophore in this web, and waits for a female to come along.

A spermatophore is a capsule or sac that contains spermatozoa for fertilising an egg.

The female takes the spermatophore and goes off with it, and uses it herself to fertilise her own eggs, without further input from the male. This process can take up to 1 hour.

One month later she produces 20 to 30 eggs, which she incubates for a further 1 to 2 months, during which time she wraps herself around them to protect them from predators.

If the female is disturbed at this time, it is not unknown for her to eat her own eggs or young. If they survive to adulthood, they start reproducing when they are a year old.

The Bite of the Scolopendra

The Scolopendra’s main weapon is its bite which paralyses its prey.

It will also bite to defend itself if it is attacked.

Like the scorpion, it can lift its tail and its pincer-like claws on one end can deliver a very painful bite which can cause inflammation and pain in the affected limb.

Worldwide Distribution of Scolopendras

Scolopendras are to be found worldwide in the warmer regions of the world, including the southern aspects of North America, South America, Europe around the Mediterranean basin, Asia, Australia and Africa.

There are many different species of scolopendras, and some of the larger varieties can reach 12″ or more in length, such as the Scolopendra gigantea as shown here. This creature lives in South America, Trinidad and Tobago and, according to Wikipedia, eats lizards, bats, frogs, mice and tarantulas. Probably humans too.

They say the bite is painful and can cause severe inflammation but is not fatal to humans. No, the actual wording is «unlikely to be fatal» which means of course that it probably is.

Some people actually keep these creatures as pets in a home terrarium!

Those’ll be the same people who keep poisonous snakes and other such unlikely pets. Imagine kissing this thing goodnight, giving it a pet or cuddling up to it when you are feeling down.

I don’t think so!

My Encounter With a Scolopendra

Look at the picture on the right, then imagine my story.

The grass was getting long in the garden, so I was out there with the lawnmower cutting it. I was wearing denim jeans, socks, and shoes.

I felt a tickle in my legs under my jeans, round about the knee. I immediately let go of the lawnmower and clasped my hands around my leg, but whatever was tickling was moving higher!

I then ran over the underbuild of the house and undid my jeans and pulled them down, and one of these centipedes jumped out from near the top of my leg. My heart was pounding. I was in a state of shock. What an ugly creature and to think it was crawling up my leg!!

It was only later when I described this insect to others that I discovered what it was. Everyone said I was so lucky it didn’t bite me.

That is what pushed me to write this hub. Be warned. Cut the grass with elastic bands round your ankles to stop this insect entering and climbing up your leg.

Oh. and mine was at least 6 inches long!


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Jeff Muenster

As a boy growing up in Spain, I caught and kept S. cingulata twice. I was also bitten once by each one from free-handling them; at that point, more or less, a daredevil tactic that quickly taught me that centipedes, in general, are highly unpredictable, and I never felt the need to chance the bite again with all the larger scolopendrids I kept in the ensuing years. Each bite was on an inside finger joint, with subsequent swelling and pain, but very localized. Can’t imagine taking a hit from the larger tropical varieties, but they remain, in my opinion, very unique and interesting animals.

Laurel Souza

I just recovered from a mean centipede bite. My entire foot swelled up from a bite on my little toe. After more than a week, which included nausea, fever and pain, it finally, but slowly became almost normal. It was a 5” or so brown centipede here in Hawaii. It was at least 5” .


A centipede bit me on the foot about an hour ago. Hope it isn’t poisonous. I live in Las Vegas. I’m a little terrified. It still stings. It was in my house slipper. I had it on all night; was watching television and decided to get ready for bed. I went into the bathroom to wash my have. Felt something crawling on my foot. Slipped my slipper of and it’s on my foot. I realized what it was and I knocked it off. It did want to move. Traumatized.

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Dhiraj Maurya


I was bitten by a Scolopendra cingulata in Portugal this past summer and whilst it was painful (for about 10-20mins) and caused a little bit of local swelling I had no other ill effects. I would definitely recommend you do your best to avoid disturbing them but I wouldn’t be too afraid of them. They are one of the least venomous of the Scolopendra centipedes and unlikely to do any real damage — but definitely an animal to respect and avoid!


7 years ago from UK

If you have found one in your garden, there are sure to be more. Don’t worry about them, just keep away and they will keep away from you. Be warned not to try and handle them.

Désolé, je ne parle pas français, mais utilisez Google translate pour comprendre —


au secours on en a une dans notre jardin elle est adulte elle fait quatre pouces environ .


8 years ago from UK

Don’t be sorry for killing them lol, they are unwelcome intruders. And dangerous for you, the kids and any animals you may have in the house. I’m doing the Spanish thing and keeping small dogs which are great for keeping insects out — they eat them, but of course I would not want the dogs to get bitten by a scolopendra.


8 years ago from Alicante, Spain

Two of these things came into my house last night. I sprayed them with cockroach spray and they died (sorry!) but now vigilantly checking everywhere to make sure there aren’t any more. Yuck!


9 years ago from UK

OH I am so glad the baby did not get bitten! What a horrible experience!

MOM from Skopje

A week ago, me, my husband, my three year old child and a 4 month old baby went to Greece, Sithonia. We found this terrible creature in the baby stroller. Imagine my reaction, i just grabbed the baby and screamed to my husband to get read of it. He was terrified to. After that we triple checked the baby stroller before putting the baby there.


9 years ago from UK

OMG that is awful! What an experience! Glad you’re OK, but it might be good idea to visit doctor anyway. Tell him it was a scolopendra. He’ll know what to do, I expect.


I also found one in my bed during hols in Spain last week, a single bed after hubby was snoring in the double. I had sharp stabbing pain and jumped out of bed to see this centipede, screamed & got straight back into bed wih hubby.(he saying he would do anything to get me back in there, not taking me seriously until he saw it) Sore, worried it was something sinister but no problem except a week later back home, it flares up today and I now have patch the size of a 10p piece swollen. Told by pharmacist to watch it and if get bigger to go to GP. Thankfully on side of knee, I dread to think if anywhere else.


9 years ago from UK

OMG how awful!! Even if they didn’t bite, I wouldn’t want to find one of them in bed with me!

I have heard their bite is painful. Here’s hoping it heals up on its own.


I was asleep and got bitten last night in bed.. I woke up with a pain in my neck and caught the thing under my pillow. I kept it and after reading your piece and looking at the pictures I now know what bit me and I have in a container in the garden. Thankyou!!


9 years ago from UK

Ooooh horrible! So long as it didn’t bite you, that’s the main thing 🙂


Now I know what it was that gave me the willies today. on the tennis court! My friend was opening a can of previously used tennis balls. He held out his hand to catch the balls as they rolled out, and out ran one of these things. It was about 5 or 6″ long, and hit the ground running. Icky poo. We have no idea how it got into that can, but, needless to say, we’ll think of that now whenever we open a can of tennis balls!

John Harper

10 years ago from Malaga, Spain

. and we find out that they are turkey basters as well!

Horrible things. YUCK!


10 years ago from UK

I always throught centipedes were harmless but not this type! I think the common factor with the scolopendras are the colored body segments, or maybe just the segments with the pincer at the tail-end. And the size!

Gypsy Willow

10 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Very interesting I think I saw something like this in Barbados. Not my fave sort of Creature!


10 years ago from UK


Sorry I can,t resist this comment.I bet it,s not the first time you’ve had a six inch creature inside your trousers


10 years ago from Wisconsin

That would send me reeling to be sure! One creature I absolutely abhor. Very sorry to hear one got up your pantleg. Yeesh!


10 years ago from UK

Are we still talking about scolopendras?? lol

They are rife in Greece as you no doubt know! In fact, the final photo above was taken on a Greek Island.

De Greek

10 years ago from UK

Never came across a six inches thingammy before? And you live in Spain? You cannot be doing your garden often then?


10 years ago from UK

You never met one then? LOL I wish I hadn’t, but menos mal — it didn’t bite me!


10 years ago from UK

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Doesn`t sound something I`d like to meet, that`s for sure.

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15 Dangerous Creatures and How to Avoid Them

What are the Most Dangerous Animals on Earth? The Answer May Surprise You

GOOD Magazine has put together a video of the top 15 creatures that are lethal to humans. Can you guess which creature is the most deadly?

(These are estimated numbers presented by GOOD Magazine)

Let’s go even further… Let’s discuss safety precautions you can take to avoid being attacked or affected by these creatures:

Which Animals Kill the Most People?

1. Sharks: 10 deaths a year

2. Wolves: 10 deaths a year

3. Lions: 100 deaths a year

4. Elephants: 100 deaths a year

5. Hippos: 500 deaths a year

6. Crocodiles: 1000 deaths a year

7. Tapeworms: 2000 deaths a year

8. Tsetse Fly: 9000 deaths a year

9. Assassin Bug: 12,000 deaths a year

10. Dog: 40,000 deaths a year (via rabies)

11. Venomous Snakes: 50,000 deaths a year

12. Ascaris Roundworm: 50,000 deaths a year

13. Freshwater Snail: 110,000 deaths a year (via Schistosomiasis)

14. Humans: 475,000 deaths a year

15. Mosquitoes: 725,000 deaths a year

Sharks – 10 Deaths per Year

Sharks can be dangerous, and anyone who ventures into their territory needs to have a healthy respect for these fish. If you’re going to enter waters inhabited by sharks, it’s a good idea to know how to fight off an attack, but it’s even more important to know how to minimize the risk of attack. (info via )

Ocean Safety in general is very important. Thousands of people each year take to the ocean waters as it continues to be a favorite pastime. This article, How To Prevent a Shark Attack , is a must read for any ocean lover.

Wolves – 10 Deaths Per Year

Wolf attacks are the rarest of all large predatory attacks. Respect for wild wolves and practicing wolf safety will help them resume their vital role as a part of the natural ecosystems of our planet. However, if you do happen to come upon wild wolves, take precautions and use common sense. Stay calm and do not run. Stand tall to make yourself look larger. Slowly back away while maintaining eye contact. Keep any dogs you may have with you on a leash. Always hike and camp in a group — never alone! (info via )

Lions – 100 Deaths Per Year

Safaris through wildlife reserves are a thrill ride. Now, the popularity of walking safaris is growing, and these are more thrilling than ever before. Along with the thrill comes a heightened amount of danger. While most lions flee from people, even while you’re on foot, an attack is always a possibility. Knowing how to react ahead of time could save your life. (info via )

If you are planning a Safari trip, How to Survive a Lion Attack is a must read.

Elephants – 100 Deaths Per Year

If, by a stroke of ill-fortune, you are unlucky enough to come face-to-face with an angry elephant, your very survival is at stake. While there are no guarantees, knowing what to do when an elephant charges before your travel in elephant country or work with elephants is a sensible precaution. The aim is to stay alive! (info via )

Check out How to Survive a Charging Elephant for safety measures to prevent a deadly situation.

Hippos – 500 Deaths Per Year

Walking through the African bush in the dry season could bring you face to face with a hippopotamus. John Coppinger explains how to avoid a potentially dangerous and even fatal encounter with this extremely territorial animal.

Crocodiles – 1000 Deaths Per Year

The simplest rule for staying safe in crocodile habitat is to never enter or approach the water. Of course this is not always realistic, but you must assume that any body of water in crocodilian habitat could potentially hold a crocodile capable of injuring or killing you, regardless of whether the attack is provoked or not. (info via )

To read further for more safety tips and precautions check out this article by CrocBITE.

Tapeworms – 2000 Deaths Per Year

A tapeworm is a parasitic flatworm, the adult of which lives in the intestine of humans and other vertebrates. It has a long ribbon like body with many segments that can become independent, and a small head bearing hooks and suckers.

To prevent tapeworm infection:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before eating or handling food and after using the toilet.
  • When traveling in areas where tapeworm is more common, wash and cook all fruits and vegetables with safe water before eating.
  • Eliminate livestock exposure to tapeworm eggs by properly disposing of animal and human feces.
  • Thoroughly cook meat at temperatures of at least 125 F (52 C) to kill tapeworm eggs or larvae.
  • Freeze meat for at least 12 hours and fish for at least 24 hours to kill tapeworm eggs and larvae.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked pork, beef and fish.
  • Promptly treat dogs infected with tapeworm.

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