As it turns out, its not entirely impossible to take control of a webcam while making sure that the person on the other end remains unaware.
There’s a big reason why webcams come with status light, why our laptops have those LEDs right next to the webcams. Whenever the webcam is turned on and it literally starts “watching” the user, the light turns on so that the user knows that the webcam is doing what its supposed to. Imagine someone tapping into the webcam of your laptop without even setting off the LED, its a frightening thought, but its certainly not impossible.
A team of student researchers at the Johns Hopkins university have discovered a method to tap into the webcams of some legacy MacBook models without turning on the status light. This enables them to capture video through the webcam while the person on the other end remains unaware. Basically the idea is to reprogram the webcam’s micro-controller, bypass a hardware interlock used by the camera to ensure that the LED is turned on whenever the webcam is active.
The vulnerability discovered by these researchers doesn’t affect Macs built after 2008, however there exists a possibility that similar hacks are out there for newer MacBooks. Those who want to be extra secure against any potential unwanted tapping on the webcam on their Macs, can always simply tape up or cover the webcam until they need to use it.