The project didn’t target individual users; rather it targeted Yahoo webcam chats between 20.
British agents spied on millions of people through their webcams using a program likened to the surveillance system in George Orwell’s 1984, according to leaked secret documents.
The surveillance agency GCHQ used a hacking program codenamed Optic Nerve to view British citizens in their homes as they used the Yahoo!
Another NSA plug-in called CAPTIVATEDAUDIENCE hijacks the microphone on targeted computers to record conversations.
Intelligence agencies have been turning computers into listening devices for at least a decade, as evidenced by the Flame spy tool uncovered by Kaspersky Lab in 2012, which had the ability to surreptitiously turn on webcams and microphones and perform a host of other espionage operations.
Documents handed to the Guardian by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the GCHQ's worked with the US intelligence agency NSA on a joint project dubbed as ‘Optic Nerve’.
The project carried out a bulk surveillance program, under which they nabbed webcam images every five minutes from random Yahoo users' video chats and stored them in a database.
What do you do to protect your 'Privacy' and keep yourself safe from potential hackers?
Well, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg just need a bit of tape to cover his laptop webcam and mic jack in order to protect his privacy.
"Face detection has the potential to aid selection of useful images for 'mugshots' or even for face recognition by assessing the angle of the face," it reads.
"The best images are ones where the person is facing the camera with their face upright." The GCHQ agency staffs were allowed to display "webcam images associated with similar Yahoo identifiers to your known target", the document reads, also it states “Bulk surveillance of Yahoo users was begun” as "Yahoo webcam is known to be used by GCHQ targets." Yahoo has reacted furiously and denied any prior knowledge of the webcam interception program, and said that it had no awareness of or involvement with the GCHQ collection, describing the activity as "a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy." And a GCHQ spokesman said in a statement, "It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters.
Keeping aside the controversies over Zuck's move, tapping your laptop's webcam is a good take away for you to adopt, because we know the ability of spy agencies, including the FBI and NSA (National Security Agency), to turn on webcam to spy on targets.