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Old Mar 7, 2012, 02:41 PM   #1
ArtOfWarfare
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Use built in cam without indicator light?

I have a paranoid friend who puts tape over their MacBook Pro's built in webcam. I insist that the camera can't be secretly used, that the camera is hardwired to the indicator LED, and that if the camera has power, the LED would also have power. If the LED doesn't have power, neither does the camera, like a string of cheap Christmas lights.

Am I incorrect? Is it possible to use the built in webcam without the indicator light (without physically modifying the machine?)
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Old Mar 7, 2012, 02:50 PM   #2
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I bet if you could get code into the kernel you could activate the camera without the LED being on.
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Old Mar 7, 2012, 03:23 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfram View Post
I bet if you could get code into the kernel you could activate the camera without the LED being on.
You don't happen to be ArtOfWarfare's paranoid friend, do you?

Just make sure to not bet anything you don't want to lose. You put far too much faith in the omnipotence of the kernel.
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Old Mar 7, 2012, 07:14 PM   #4
gnasher729
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfram View Post
I bet if you could get code into the kernel you could activate the camera without the LED being on.
I would think there is a direct hardware connection that cannot be circumvented. If I had designed it, even a broken LED would disable the camera.
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Old Mar 7, 2012, 07:43 PM   #5
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I would have thought that if possible then it would have been implemented by one of those "Find My Mac" programs. The ones that take pictures on a regular basis along with location and network data so that you can see who is currently using your Mac.

You could test it by downloading one of those programs. Tell the program that your mac is lost and see if it mails you photos and / or if you notice the green light coming on at all.
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Old Mar 8, 2012, 12:16 AM   #6
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The light is probably controlled by the firmware on the camera, I would doubt the kernel can override the behavior.
And it is almost certainly not hardwired 'like Christmas lights' to prevent the camera from working if the led was broken.
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Old Mar 8, 2012, 03:47 AM   #7
xStep
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It takes a lot to make that green light invisible, as witness in these forums; Tutorial: How to Turn Off Green iSight Light on Macbook!.

Apparently there are Linux drivers which also haven't been able to turn off the LED when using the camera.

I do recall hearing that the light is controlled by the camera. Not even the Mac firmware can turn the light off while the camera is in use. I think the external one also had such a light, but you were able to close a manual iris to disable the camera & mic, and of course unplug it.
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Old Mar 8, 2012, 08:42 AM   #8
knightlie
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Why not just let your friend cover their camera if they're not comfortable with it? It's really no big deal.
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Old Mar 8, 2012, 10:53 AM   #9
chown33
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There's always the iPatch (avast, mateys).
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Old Mar 8, 2012, 10:57 PM   #10
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This may not be of help, but I would assume there is a way possibe somehow... I have installed Prey (http://preyproject.com/) and tested that out. One of the features of that is to take a photo of the stolen laptop with the built-in camera to identify the theif.. this doesnt turn the indicator light on at all when it takes the photo.
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Old Sep 23, 2013, 06:54 AM   #11
softwater
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Originally Posted by LNYMRKO View Post
I have installed Prey (http://preyproject.com/) and tested that out. One of the features of that is to take a photo of the stolen laptop with the built-in camera to identify the theif.. this doesnt turn the indicator light on at all when it takes the photo.
Nope, that's not correct. I just tested downloaded and activated prey project to test this out.

In fact, the green light does come on. You may not have notices it because it's only momentary. All its doing is taking a snapshot, not recording video, but it definitely comes on.

That leads me to believe that all the claims the light is hardwired are probably correct, though I'd still like to see some technical proof of this (might be worth checking out iFixit and see if they've got a tear-down).
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