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Ratters: Watching You Through Your Webcam

This online security warning about ratting (ratters and slaves) is of the utmost importance to me, and I’m grateful that through my ambassadorship with HotSpot Shield, I am able to give voice to these causes on a regular basis.

It’s happening right now. A man watches an innocent teenager on her computer and continues to observe her as she gets up to undress and climb in bed. She has no idea she is being watched through her very own webcam.

It’s happening every day. It could be happening to you. It could be happening to your children.

It’s called ratting, and the “ratters” refer to their victims as “slaves.”  It’s a creepy, evil spy game.

laptop webcam

The term “ratting” comes from (RAT) which stands for Remote Access Tools, and it allows a user in one location to take control over a machine somewhere else. The technology itself is not bad; in fact, I’ve allowed services like the Geek Squad to remotely access my computer several times in order to remove nasty viruses.

Unfortunately, there are some sick people in the world who are using the software in a malicious manner, and sadly this trend is becoming increasingly popular. There are forums and communities springing up where ratters are openly trading their recordings, sharing access to enslaved computers with other members and posting compromising videos on YouTube.

The most common victims are young women, but pedophiles are also using the technology to target children.

ratters and slaves - ratting

Hackers trick computer users into downloading software by embedding it into emails or social media links. The links usually lead to something that would be appealing to teenagers, i.e. celebrity gossip, music or a photo. Unsuspecting kids click those links and bam, their computer receives a virus with the RAT software.

Once the software is installed, the hackers have access to everything on that computer, including the webcam. They remotely switch it on and start recording their “slaves.”

What You Can Do to Protect Yourself

Although I did want to scare you a little bit to raise awareness, let me assure you that ratting can be stopped and prevented.

padlock on laptop - online security

–Keep your software updated, and use a firewall and anti-virus program. (If you’re using HotSpot Shield, which I’ve talked about several times, malware protection is built in.)

–Turn off your computer or close your laptop when not in use.

–Watch the light on your webcam. If it goes on without you prompting it, investigate by running your anti-virus. Also, take a look at which processes are running (ctrl + alt + del) to see if anything looks suspicious and needs to be disinfected.

–Place a piece of black tape over the webcam eye (and if I still had teenagers in the house, I would absolutely do this on their devices as a precaution).

–Never click on unknown links and avoid torrent sites where videos, music and programs have often been seeded with RAT software.

Please, please protect yourselves! 

 If you missed my previous posts in the series, feel free to check them out:

Does Free Internet Have a Price Tag?

My Mom Was Scammed

And if you haven’t downloaded HotSpot Shield yet, you’ll find more information within those posts about that as well.

Have you heard about ratters before? What’s your biggest fear about online security?

About Liz

Liz Mays is a lifestyle, food and travel blogger living in coastal North Carolina. If she's not in her kitchen creating recipes, she's probably off on another whirlwind travel adventure, scrapbooking her photos and memories, curled up watching a movie or sound asleep.

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Comments

  1. This is so sad. I know I’ve let my work and Geek Squad remote access but I had never thought of anything like this happening. I really love the idea of this HotSpot Shield. Especially with how we leave our computer on all the time.

  2. Wow, that’s pretty scary! I’ve never been a huge fan of webcams and they’ve always kinda creep me out. Our laptops have them and I always cover them up while the kids are using it.

  3. Ugh, this is so creepy!! We used to put a piece of paper over ours. I need to start doing that again.

  4. Such great information, there are some sick people out there!

  5. Oh my gosh, this is so scary to think this could happen. I often find myself wondering if someone somewhere could possibly be looking in through my webcam and finding out that it is something real that can actually happen really freaks me out.

  6. I’ve never heard of this before but it is quite frightening. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  7. OK – I am going to make my husband read this! He laughs at me because I keep a piece of tape over my laptop webcam when I am not using it. I have heard of Ratting before, and it just terrifies me!

    Thanks for the other tips.

  8. The heck?! I’ve never heard of this until now. Thank you for letting us know.

  9. I had no idea this was being done. Thank you so much for this information.

  10. Wow, I’d never heard of “ratting” before. Pretty scarey! Thanks for the info and tips on it.