A former information technology director of a Tampa advertising firm is facing jail time after some unauthorized "facetime" with a couple of female co-workers.
Thursday, Christopher Channer pleaded guilty to federal charges of intercepting communications after the FBI determined that back in 2010, he tapped into webcams of female employees of the Atlanta office of 22squared from his Tampa office without their knowledge.
They say he gained access through a program on the computers that was designed to track down stolen laptops.
Channer, who according to a plea agreement captured more than 1200 images of the woman, including the exposed breast of one woman, is facing five years in prison.
Channer was an experienced IT director tapping into pre-loaded software on company owned computers, but the experts say you don't need that kind of experience to hack a webcam.
"It doesn't take a genius to be able to figure out how to get into someone else's webcam," said Stephen Pearson of High Tech Crime Institute.
Friday, Pearson gave a chilling example of how easy it could be.
A simple search of "how to hack a webcam" in YouTube turned up seven pages of video tutorials.
"There's plenty of opportunity for someone to download a program or try to exploit or try to use the program," Pearson said.
One video connection with someone with one of those illegal programs could give them access to your webcam without your knowledge.
Not good news for someone like Carl Valeri, who says he uses his webcam daily.
"I travel internationally and Skype is one of the best ways to get in touch with people," said Valeri. "That's pretty scary."
Pearson says the best way to protect yourself is to make sure your computer's virus protection is up to date, but he also had a low-tech solution.
"If you have an embedded camera, put a piece of tape across it," Pearson said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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