Like massage therapists, PC repair techs have a bad rep thanks to those individuals who abuse their profession by performing illegal activities. Computer repair shops seem somewhat sketchy now because numerous reports tell horror stories of technicians supposedly fixing issues but instead are trolling for images or scooping up delicate personal information. Even just recently the Aaron's rental chain was accused of installing spyware on its laptops and desktops to track keystrokes and watch customers remotely via built-in webcams.
Now the IDG News service is adding to the privacy invasion fear with a report of a Mac technician who allegedly installed spyware to take candid pictures of his clients in "various states of undress." Twenty-year-old Trevor Harwell, a contractor for a home-based Los Angeles-area computer repair company called Rezitech, was arrested Wednesday by Fullerton police after they discovered literally thousands of images on Harwell's computers.
According to Sergeant Andrew Goodrich, a spokesman with the Fullerton Police Department in California, Harwell installed software called Camcapture on the computers of dozens of female clients. "It would let his server know that the victim's machine was on. The server would then notify his smartphone... and then the images were recorded on his home computer," he said.
Police said that Harwell was formerly a student at Biola University, a small Christian university in southern California. Many of the identified "clients" (or victims in this case) were students at the university, and officials are currently trying to determine if Harwell also compromised the university's network.
Harwell was actually first discovered last year after a Rezitech customer took her Mac into an Apple Genius Bar for servicing because strange messages began popping up on her screen. "You should fix your internal sensor soon," read one popup disguised as a Mac OS X system warning. "If unsure what to do, try putting your laptop near hot steam for several minutes to clean the sensor." The Genius Bar technician discovered the spyware residing on her hard drive and quickly informed her to call the police.
Goodrich said that other victims who also received the same message actually fell for the trick, taking their computers with them into the bathroom while they took a shower. Rezitech customers worried that they may be another victim can find the Camcapture software in the /Library/WebServer/Documents folder.
Sorry, but the days of home visits by PC and Mac repair technicians are over thanks to stunts like this.