A massive prosecution is underway surrounding malicious software that can watch people through their webcam.
Almost 100 people around the world have been charged with making, selling or using the program called BlackShades, which allows someone to follow every keystroke and even record video using their webcam.
All of that access is done remotely, with no physical access to someone's computer or home, without consent or knowledge.
"People can then install it onto your machine and take full control of your computer," IT expert Jason Fields said.
Fields works for The Purple Guys, an IT management service for about 80 metro-area businesses.
He says the software was being sold, for as little as $40, on hacker underground websites and installed on unsuspecting computers by way of unsolicited email links.
"Usually what it was," said Fields, "was a hacker would buy it himself and then send it out in a link saying download this to make your computer run faster or go to this web page and fill out this form and we'll make your computer run faster."
Any malicious software, also known as malware, will typically make a computer slow down.
The crackdown has put a big dent in distribution, Fields says, but that doesn't mean it's not on someone's computer already.
The FBI lists several warning signs that someone might have it on their computer.
If the cursor moves when someone is not moving their mouse, if the monitor goes black while they are using the computer, or if they notice a webcam light blinking, they should go to the FBI's website to get step-by-step directions on what to do next.
But cybercrime experts say someone can be watching without any of those signs showing up. They say if someone notices any unauthorized bank transactions, they should look into whether Blackshades could be the culprit.
Fields says it's a good idea to have not just anti-virus software but malware scanning software. Well-known brands include Malwarebytes and CCleaner.
He recommends scanning the computer once a month or more often if something seems off.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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