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Shodan — a company that describes itself as a search engine for Internet-connected devices — launched a tool last year that lets users access publicly available webcams all over the world. "This was launched in August 2015 and the various sources for screenshots have expanded since then — one of those recent additions is for webcams." Matherly calls Shodan the first search engine for the Internet of Things, pulling in data from anything connected to the Web.Recently, the company added freeze-framed images from those webcams, making browsing through people's public and private lives as easy as clicking through a Netflix catalog. The site has been used for, among other things, studying the popularity of HBO Go on Roku and producing a global map of industrial control systems, Matherly said."Shodan wants to provide a complete view of the Internet which includes control systems, printers, servers, databases, tea kettles and of course webcams," he wrote.

Webcams let family members, friends and business associates connect face-to-face across the world.

In the last decade they’ve become so ubiquitous that the phenomenon of seeing someone as you speak with them tens or thousands of miles away has gone from a pipedream to a commonplace reality that can take place in the palm of your hand, courtesy of your smartphone.

A young man recently pleaded guilty in court to extortion after he performed a remote hack on Miss Teen USA’s webcam to secretly collect nude photos.

She had no idea she was hacked as it was happening because her green light never came on.

An infected email might say: “Check out my new Hawaiian video! ” said Hemu Nigam, a former internet crimes prosecutor for the Department of Justice and founder of SSP Blue, a Los Angeles-based online safety advisory firm.

If you think you’d notice a little light coming on, indicating the webcam is in use, you could be wrong, experts said. “There have been cases of former lovers who hack webcams to spy on their exes, sexual deviants who collect images for their own use, and sextortionists, who use images and videos to demand ransoms or get victims to perform additional acts via their webcam in order to keep the photos private,” Krystie Caraballo, the general manager of Cam Patch, a maker of removable webcam covers, said in an email.Strong antivirus protection systems protect against the latest malware threats – including invasive ones like those that turn users’ webcams against them.Kaspersky Internet Security makes this impossible by alerting users whenever an application attempts to access the webcam and has permissions setups that allow for certain programs like Skype or Hangouts to have access while denying all others unless expressly granted permission by the user.When your Mac’s i Sight camera is running, a tiny green light lets you know that it’s turned on. New research from Johns Hopkins University shows how hackers can remotely control the i Sight camera in certain Macs without turning on the accompanying LED indicator light.Apple designed the i Sight camera and green light to turn on and off simultaneously as not only a helpful indicator for the user, but a privacy feature.If you think that’s not real, ask Miss Teen USA 2013, whose webcam was hacked into and used to take nude photos of her.