Black Friday is almost here and the sales have already started, so I thought it would be a good time to suggest a simple and very inexpensive holiday gift idea- stick-on webcam covers.

In the last few years we’ve learned people like Mark Zuckerberg and James Comey cover their laptop cameras, and information provided by Edward Snowden told us the NSA had secretly been snapping photos of Yahoo users via their webcams for years. The privacy concern is valid.

More recently, there have been an increasing number of hijacked webcam scams where cyber-criminals send emails to victims “…claiming to have remotely accessed victim’s personal computers, hijacked their webcam, and captured compromising videos of the victims and even their families. The criminals threaten to release the videos if they don’t’ receive a ‘ransom.'” Though usually it’s an empty threat, they don’t have any such video.

With a webcam cover in place you get piece of mind that your camera is only able to capture when you choose to uncover it. Some new laptops come with a cover built-in, or the covers can be purchased for around $2 ea if you buy several together. As a gift, they can fit in an envelope with a card. You can even get your company logo printed on them. 

I find the most convenient type of cover is a small plastic sticker that includes a sliding door.

You open the door, remove the self-adhesive backing, and place it over the camera. Check to see if your laptop has a small light next to the camera to indicate when it’s recording, and make sure you position the sticker so it’s not covering the light or any other features.

On my ipad mini & macbook

I bought a six-pack of black plastic ones and put them on my laptops and ipad. They are thin enough to close my Macbook Pro and durable enough for the wear and tear of my ipad. There are some cute designs and metal ones available.

If you’re looking for a cover for your phone’s selfie cam, pay close attention to the product dimensions. Even if the seller claims it can be used on a phone, it may cover the speaker. If the dimensions aren’t given, I’d find another seller. I’ve seen product photos that show the same cover being used on a laptop and phone, but the phone image was photoshopped to fit.

There are smaller ones specifically designed for phones which may be a better bet, and I’ll update this post if I try one.