Microsoft reveals why Surface devices don’t have a webcam shutter

Surface Laptop 2

The surveillance age has inspired users to cover up the
front-facing cameras on laptops and other electronic devices.
PC makers have adapted to the change and many devices including
the mid-range hardware are shipped with webcam shutters to
increase privacy.

The new Surface products including Surface Go 2 and Surface
Laptop 3 don’t have a webcam shutter. According to Microsoft’s
Stevie Bathiche, it’s because
Surface products are equipped with dedicated light and it
is activated whenever the camera is being used, so it allows
you to find out the camera status.

Microsoft says that the LED light is not software-controlled,
which means it cannot be hacked. The camera itself controls the
light and both are physically disconnected from the system. In
other words, when the light is on, the camera is sending data
to the apps.

If a hacker gets access to the webcam, they are blocked from
disabling light, which will still automatically turn on when
the camera module is sending data.

As the software (Windows 10) does not control the LED light,
it’s impossible for bad actors to hack the system and disable
camera LED.

In other words, don’t expect Microsoft to add a camera cover to
Surface devices anytime soon because it’s not required, at
least for now.


In addition to webcam shutter, Intel’s Thunderbolt
ultra-high-speed I/O – a powerful standard that enables
advanced accessories – is also not available on Surface Book 3,
Surface Laptop 3 or any other Surface product.

A Microsoft employee said that
Surface products don’t come with Thunderbolt because of
security concerns. According to the company, the Thunderbolt
port could allow bad actors to gain direct memory access.

Microsoft might have been right to skip Thunderbolt 3 on its
new Surface products. New research has revealed that any PC
with Thunderbolt made before 2019 is vulnerable to the
“Thunderspy” security problem, which can be exploited to bypass
the login screen of the system when the device is in sleep or
locked state.

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