LAFITTE, LA (WVUE) - Using her laptop computer has never been so stressful. "He was threatening me, my family," Rachelle Davis said. The Lafitte mother can't forget a recent phone call and what unfolded afterward right in front of her.
"He turned from being very professional to like a hard-core criminal," Davis said. She explained that the caller claimed he was a Norton Anti Virus representative and could see that her computer had been running slow.
"Straight to the point, (he was) saying your computer's gonna crash if, you know, if you don't get it fixed. And I'm like, you know, well, how do I do that?" Davis asked. She explained that the caller said he was going to show her, and then, she says, he basically just took over the computer. "He was on my phone and on my computer, talking to me while controlling my computer," Davis said.
She said first her mouse started moving on its own. Then, while the caller explained the costs to fix her computer issues, she said he started to type on her screen "one year for $139.95, two years $209.95."
"Here's where it got really scary. I (saw) seen that blue light come on!" Davis said. She says the cam on her laptop started flashing blue that day, indicating that her web cam had been activated.
Suddenly, the man on the phone could see right into her home. When we tested it, we found you could see right into her living room, the TV and a bookshelf with family pictures on it.
"I've never turned that light on, you know, never turned the video camera on myself, but when I (saw) seen the blue light, I know - I mean the camera's right there," Davis said.
"I closed it. I shut it, and then kind of peeking in, I can see him!" Davis said while she continued to look at the screen. "I could see him. He's telling me 'show your face, show your face,'" she said.
She said his tone went from professional and trying to help to disturbing and graphic, asking to see specific parts of her body and more. "'How many people have you been with?' but in different terms, as well as my mother, you know, 'I'm gonna do things to you.' It was a lot, it was a lot," Davis said.
"It's scary. You've been violated like that. You feel there's violation, someone's been on your computer. My camera's being used against me, just like what you see on the movies," Davis said.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional Nam Nguyen says what happened to Davis is more common than you think. He says the most prevalent way is through "malvertising." That's when hackers hijack advertising content on legitimate web pages, and you don't even need to open an attachment or click on a link.
"There's software out there right now that lets you remotely control another computer. For example, software support, during that time you can control the keyboard, the mouse and you can send things to printers," Nguyen said. Once the advertising content has been hijacked, Nguyen says it scans your computer, searching for software that's vulnerable. Besides accessing your web cam, it can also record every keystroke you type in.
Nguyen says security vendors offer a one-pill-fits-all paid software protection. He says what you want to look for is a complete security solution that has web browser protection, anti-virus protection and anti-malware.
Davis' laptop has since been cleaned up. "It scared me. It scared me to see that blue light," she said. She wants to warn others what could be lurking so no one else becomes the victim of a hijacked web camera.
Remember, Davis told us the man who called her claimed to be a Norton Anti-Virus rep. We reached out to Norton, and company support staff released the following statement:
They also say it's troubling that there continue to be support imposters purporting to be with vendors in the industry deceiving innocent consumers.
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