It seems you can’t even trust your friendly neighborhood PC repair technician anymore (unless it’s me):
Trevor Harwell, 20, a technician for Rezitech Inc., provided home computer services to users with Macintosh computers, said Fullerton Police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich.
Harwell went to elaborate lengths to ensure that he got lurid images, even convincing users through system messages that they needed to take their computers into steamy environments, such as near their showers, Goodrich said.
“While he had physical access to the computers, he would install a spyware-type application that allowed him remote access to the user’s computer and webcam,” Goodrich said.
“Once he had access, he would take photographs of the users, usually women,” Goodrich said. “Often, the female victims were undressed or changing clothes.”
[…] One message mimicked the appearance of a system message and read: “You should fix your internal sensor soon. If unsure what to do, try putting your laptop near hot steam for several minutes to clean the sensor.”
The message led many victims to take their laptops into the bathroom while taking a shower, Goodrich said.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that water, even in the form of steam, and computers don’t really mix well so if your computer is suddenly telling you it needs a steam bath you should probably be at least a little bit skeptical. I could make a snarky comment about the fact that these were Mac users so it’s probably no surprise that they were easily duped — after all, look at how much they’re being duped out of to buy a Mac in the first place — but I’m sure there are plenty of Windows users out there who wouldn’t stop to question their computer’s sudden desire for tropical atmospheres either.
It’s probably a sign of my tendency to over-estimate the intelligence of the average American that I was surprised such a ploy worked at all, let alone for as long as this news items suggests it did. The police are saying that they’ve recovered “hundreds of thousands” of images. Perhaps these folks should consider taking an introduction to computers class at the local college.