Thursday, January 05, 2006

Cameraware

Today as I sat at my comp hard at work, a chat window pops up in front of me startling me. It was my friend Sunitha and her message read “I can see what you doing, you bad girl !”. I was battling to keep my temper in check after a mail from the Printer telling me that the printing matter that was to be delivered today would be delivered next week as there was a huge traffic jam near the Printing Press!!!! The stupid fellow always gives such innovative excuse because he has not done the job. That’s when the chat window pops up on the monitor.

This particular incident got me thinking. What if in the near future someone develops a a Camera like software programme that could be sent to other peoples computers as a malicious attachment to capture images and sounds of the person using the computer, his surroundings etc? (Do I hear that it is already under development? *shudder*)

At the rate at which technology is leapfrogging frontiers I wouldn’t be surprised if such a thing does happen soon. The enormity of its impact on our day to day lives I am sure would be tremendous. Imagine putting on your comp and then running a “cameraware” scan to remove malicious camera programmes every time you use the comp? And be forever wary that you are being observed by “cameraware’ that slips in like adware into your computer. It would be like living in fear forever! Even pesky adwares are difficult to remove completely as they keep reappearing, so a “cameraware’ would be just as difficult to remove completely from the system. Besides such a programme may be able to read or scan important files stored in your computer and send it out using your email to a remote operator.

Computers will be confined to isolated rooms in homes as you dare not keep it in your bedroom because you change your clothes in there. Or in any other room for that matter because a your comp is now a potential peeping tom. A ‘cameraware’ will become very useful for industrial espionage as it will be easy to install and use unlike bugs.

I can think of dozens of potential hazardous applications for a ‘cameraware’ none palatable. I am sure Symantec and Grisoft will make their billions making Anti Cameraware programmes to combat the growing intrusion into our personal space. And as they make software to detect hidden Cameraware, so will the makers of Cameraware make newer and more sophisticated editions of Cameraware that will be increasingly devious and difficult to detect.


Someone please tell me that this is a technical impossibility!

( p.s.dreamslittle has elaborated the impact of such a technology in his blog)

41 comments:

YldGuy said...

possible.

silverine said...

Oh nooooooo :((

Dr. Pissed said...

just remove the connected camera.. err

silverine said...

@dr pissed: I am talking about a camera software like the adwares that do mischief in your comp :))

Anonymous said...

i cn view wat u do in ur desktop sittin in ma cozy chair out here.

al i hv 2 do is snd u an email and unless ur antivirus scanner catches it u r in for a treat.

its very much possible and dats how many software companies access the servers abroad.;)

u gota a lota posts going recently, I am like,uhm, is it more than a year since i have visited this place! ..

" @anonymous: Is the special something, 'you'? ;) "
You got a tough luck, coz u dnt hve d previlege for that;)


hasta manana!

Geo said...

if what you are looking for is a geeky answer, then yes, its a technical impossibility. A s/w can at most capture your virtual desktop, not your physical desktop.

Arti Honrao said...

Just imagining the possibility gives me shudder :-ss

silverine said...

@anonymous: Obviously you haven't read the post properly! And please don't even think that you can pass off as the Anon commentor in the GE post! Nice try ;) Adios!
@Geo: Well a lot of things that were termed impossible is now a possibility.Not a geeky answer but a tolerably technical answer would help thoug this post was more of a 'wondering aloud' kinda post :)
@akansha: Me too :((

Leon said...

It IS a technical impossibility..

Primarily because it is a hardware issue. Nothing much software can do here. Software can only be used to order devices to perform tasks they are capable of performing. A monitor acts as a display. Nothing more nothing less. There is no way a monitor could take a picture or a video.

So you would need a camera lens (either external or internal), in which case you would know about it. After all you ought to know your systems hardware configuration. you do.. don't you? :p

In other words, you are safe as long as you use the monitor you are currently using and make sure you disconnect your webcam when you need your err.. privacy.

As and when a monitor with a camera lens behind the lcd screen comes out I'll let you know so that you can avoid purchasing it. (Frankly, that seems a impossibility too, since it would require that the display be transparent (for the camera behind to focus) which would make the display useless.

Now, before you start cursing me for this technical answer please remember.. YOU ASKED FOR IT .. ;-)

Alexis Leon said...

Is it possible? With the current technology, I think I will agree with Geo & Leon (Not possible).

But if something called Cameraware is invented in the future we all know from where the developers got the inspiration…

Matter of Choice said...

well....today's nightmares are tomorrow's gift ideas of the geeks!

between how did u get the idea of the cameraware???

mebbe u should go ahead and patent it unless the idea has already been patented by "someone" else :))

cheerio
MoC

Mind Curry said...

That could be disturbing, Silverine.. Now consider this latest research finding:

"Over half of those who used Wi-fi had used it in the bathroom," said Cole, remarking that he believed some people in busy homes retreated there for some privacy.
(Jeffrey Cole, of the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School Centre for the Digital Future.)

Since people were unlikely to be surfing in the bath, or while brushing their teeth, Cole said he had concluded that many of them went off into cyberspace while on the throne.

I am in the process of setting up wi-fi in my home and shall declare my usage statistics shortly.

>|' ; '| said...

OMG!!!

:-SS

maybe the camerawares are already on the loose....

we must tackle this problem logically. lets go to the grass root level. the cameraware needs a camera and a computer to work. lets ban them both!!!

>:)

Rockus said...

Well it can be done! In uber geek sites i have read the ability to capture sounds using the radiation from monitors...so someone has to just tweak the monitor settings remotely (it can be done for SURE) so that radiation is at a peak and then device a software which reads the signals...much like ultra sound scans and then transform the ultra sound image into a real life colour image...
LoOOOOng shot...:-P

JamesBright said...

I don't know about the technicality...but similar crimes will rule our world in the future...!

kd said...

It is technically impossible on the hardware you currently have. Sleep peacefully.

Nandya said...

if one can write stuff to control ur webcam,..then well u are done for arent u...but hey i wudnt mind putting up a show

silverine said...

@Leon:Thanks for that info. Was quite relieved reading that :))
@Alexis: Maybe I have opened a Pandora's box :))
@matterofchoice:As far I know it is my original idea :) And I dunno if a mere idea can be patented. And it was a product of an active imagination ;)
@mindcurry:That was interesting info. Mebe people will blog from the loo in future :)) Well havent you taken a cordless phone into the loo? Guess Wi-Fi will be treated as such! :)
@poison: OMG!!! What a brilliant solution!!! ^:)^ =))
@rockus: Interesting!!! :-?
@dreamslittle: True :(
@Nithin: Thanks!! :)
@nandya: LOL

duttan said...

damn. I was late.

Darth Duttan agrees with Geo and Leon, unless you start downloading hardware from the internet. :P

ursjina said...

Well..must be possible..esp i guess the US must have already havin it and spying on people...U know those conspiracies...hehe...

Anoop MohanKumar said...

Technicality my arse; Tthese software geeks can get your pants to take a picture and send it across to the store, so that they can send you a brochure of underwares that match your pants.

So beware the next time you see an anonymous black spot close to the zippers, do not buy the pants :)

Nice post and the many other posts I had missed.

YldGuy said...

well..i shud hv read the post more carefully.. :| i was talking abt the cam. No cam no probs unless somebody figures out how to connect to ur camera phone (or any wireless device) and..

calvin said...

Well as many have said , it is possible only if you have web cam or a digicam connected to the camera. Its a hardware issue. Without a Webcam , its only possible to capture what goes on in your monitor , in the Windows desktop. I dont have to elaborate on that . But espionage is another thing. But look at this link from Wired News . i got this while surfing Slashdot a few days back. Its not Geeky or anything , but its a good read and a relevant issue.

calvin said...

err .. mistake in my earlier comment. It should be "it is possible only if you have web cam or a digicam connected to the computer." instead of "it is possible only if you have web cam or a digicam connected to the camera." It is obvious , but i have found that admitting a mistake is a good way to remember it .

kickassso said...

you could try this:P

anthony said...

One might start wearing balaclava mask while using the comp. Imagine an ofice full of masked people.. or maybe people might start to work in the dark...

Anonymous said...

silv, u r rite, i didnt read it properly, was in a real hurry..

newways i know about this latest kinda monitor wer u hve a small lens built in it.

Who knows maybe in future(within a couple of years)..everyone will be purchasing a monitor with this feature in it (saves the extra cost for the purchase of a webcam)..the curent monitors we use will be out of this world due to lack of demand and everyone will be having a monitor with a lens attached to it.

Someone will write a virus, that can activate this lens and the rest is .......

Very much possible i guess?

I guess the upcoming of this technology will be good enough for futures MOMS like you, You can watch what ur children are upto while u r in ur office;) [ sneak a virus to ur home pc without ur childs knowledge..hehe] [ dnt tel me dat u wudnt need to do dat coz they will alwyas be this mannered kids]


@anonymous: And please don't even think that you can pass off as the Anon commentor in the GE post! Nice try ;) Adios!
u r smarter dan i thot, but i dnt think u can guess dat;)

silverine said...

@duttan: I think what Anonymous commentor says in his last comment also makes a lot of sense.
@Ursjina: Now thats scary :(
@Anoop: LOL Point noted,no more buying pants with anonymous spots near zipper.And what do you mean by these techies? I thought you were a techie or are you out of IT? ;)
@Ylder: Point noted :)
@aashik: Checked out the link. I fully support the right to privacy but if they want camera's in the streets with Europe being increasingly vulnrable to terrorists attack, then it is foolish to protest against it.
@kickasso: That was an old one :))
@Anthony: Yes, such a day will come I guess!
@Anonymous: Hey, you make a lot of sense here! Now it does look like a distinct possibility.

Dr. Pissed said...

Err, pardon me, but without lensing on your monitor, how do you expect a picture to be captured? All cameras need lensing and monitors dont have them. Until you have an external camera connected to your machine which you forget to unplug and someone gains access to your machine using a trojan or some netbus kinda app, i dont see any harm with camera SOFTWARES or camerawares like you'd like to call them.

My take..

Nagu said...

haha, intersteing one. With ordinary monitors it is not possible to take the video or photo of a person and send. But construction of such a monitor is theoretically possible.
Once such monitors are avialable then its very much easy to develop such softwares. Such develoments will only be an extension of already available spy softwares. I have personally came across softwares (trojans) which can do this job using ur connected camera (obviously only if plugged on). The funniest part is it will not only record the video but also cut the recorded data into chunks and send it thru normal port 80 to a control center, which will add these chunks of data to give a full fledged video. Those trojans were amazing softwares, but unfortunately all ur antivirus will discover them easily. But i am pretty sure the most famous subseven trojan team is working hard to over come this ;)

Fleiger said...

guess it is not possible with only monitor. But then, it is possible using your webcam. Beware the aperture , it can turn into next keyhole.

LI said...

It is very much possible eventhough the possibility seems a little distant.The mobile phones and the iPods came as a result of thoughts like this.But as you said if there is a cameraware then there will be an anticameraware also . So dont worry :)

silverine said...

@dr pissed: Exactly. But when monitors with built-in cam comes around we may witness such a phenomenon.
@nagu: Thanks for the input. I was curious as to how you would interpret it and as a true blue tech blogger you have given a realistic picture here!
@fleiger: I guess you are right. The aperture might just be the next keyhole.
@Li: It is presence of mobiles and video cams that makes a cameraware a distinct possibility. But as you said maybe I should trust the anticameraware that will be developed to counter the menace :)

Jagan said...

hey...its simple ..ur monitor cant capture any image and transmit ..So NOT POSSIBLE

but...if u hav a web cam attached to ur pc , and then if someone can trick u into enabling them on ..and transmit it over internet , then its a prob .VERY POSSIBLE:)

Anonymous said...

there is a s/w that can be downloaded to a comp and then the images from its webcam transeferred/saved.......this is if u have a webcam......
SmartConnect.this firm has a Video Centric Internet Surveillance software.....details at smartconnect.net
Divya

ursjina said...

hey..cn i link this post to my next post???

silverine said...

@ursjina: Sure go ahead :)
@Jagan:Till we have monitors with cam, guess we can rest easy.
@Divya: Hey thanks a ton for the link. Interesting!

Praveen said...

dont think its a technical impossibility, who knows, as you yourself say, such a thing will already be under development, who knows

Sushil said...

Not exactly what you were worried about but similar. A device that watches you watch TV:
http://engadget.com/2006/01/12/lucents-snooze-catcher-for-dvrs/

Anonymous said...

Its possible!!!!!!but only a screen shot of your current desktop.This was a project my bro did!!!!!!

AP

YldGuy said...

http://www.japancorp.net/Article.Asp?Art_ID=15247