The Surface devices are now the mainstay of the PC hardware world. Each and every model comes with exceptional circuitry and build quality, with an advanced set of features.
Features like Windows Hello.
While this feature is both secure and convenient, it also requires a compatible webcam. And the state of computing security being what it is, what with hackers hijacking webcams, manufacturers have now started to include a physical webcam cover that slides over the camera.
But not Microsoft.
The company explained the reasoning behind this in detail, as people started questioning why the technology giant did not include a camera cover — particularly on latest devices that it just recently launched, namely the Surface Book 3 and the Surface Go 2.
Redmond says that the reason why it did not include them is because such a feature would pretty much be redundant on its PCs.
That’s because Microsoft has equipped the Surface with a dedicated light that comes on whenever a camera is activated. If the light is on, the camera is enabled, meaning you will always be aware of the status.
Furthermore, the LED light is unhackable:
“The light is not software-controlled. The light is controlled by the camera itself, which is detached from the system, which means if that light’s on, it’s sending data, period. It’s impossible for that camera to be on, without that light being on.
That’s one of the things that we felt was important for customers to understand when the microphone’s on.”
In short, the LED is not controlled by software, and is separate from the camera. Even if a bad actor breaks into the device and gets access to the webcam, they still can’t disable the light in order to remain undetected on a compromised device.
Then there is also the microphone icon in the taskbar that notifies when the mic is in use.
All these security measures mean that Microsoft believes that it is doing enough to prevent the privacy of users. Some hardware manufacturers have taken a different route. But we should not expect to see a camera cover on a Surface any time soon.
Then again, there’s always aftermarket camera shutters or some good old tape that can come in handy.