Webcams have become a staple of computer technology in recent years, allowing owners to take pictures, record video or even broadcast a live video feed using specialized software. You can purchase a webcam separately or you may have a laptop computer that possesses an integrated webcam, meaning the manufacturer has embedded a webcam into the laptop itself.
Integration Into Laptops
You will typically only find integrated webcams in laptop computers, with the exception of a few models of monitors that have built-in webcams. However, compatibility issues may apply with these monitors, so these models don't possess complete integration with the computer. Laptops, on the other hand, come preloaded with all the software and device drivers necessary for the webcam's operation. When integrated properly, the built-in webcam operates right out of the box without any extra installation or effort on your part.
Integrated webcams possess a wide variety of uses in today's electronics-driven world. These webcams allow you to record yourself doing a particular task, allowing you to share your video with people online for free or for a price. Integrated webcams also can allow people to communicate "face to face" while traveling, when you might find an external webcam cumbersome to transport. Integrated webcams also allow you to take quick, convenient pictures of yourself or whatever might rest in front of a laptop webcam's eye at the moment.
The single largest risk of integrated webcams rests in the fact that you can't easily disconnect them. You can easily unplug an external webcam from your computer, a feature not found with integrated webcams. If software on your computer that utilizes a webcam possesses security flaws that hackers can exploit, you may unintentionally broadcast a live feed of yourself and whatever your integrated webcam can see. This poses not only a huge privacy violation but also opens you up for blackmail, stalking and other unwanted attention from criminals.
You should take a few protective measures when using an integrated webcam. Disabling the webcam's device driver when not in use remains a powerful method of protection. You can accomplish this through your computer's Control Panel. Basic security measures, such as anti-virus software and firewalls, can also keep cyber criminals from gaining unauthorized access to your system. In perhaps the most simple and effective way of protecting yourself, you can tape something over your webcam's eye when not in use, such as a piece of paper.