How To Keep Web Sites From Listening To Your Microphone [OS X Tips]

Omnibar

Last week, a speech recognition developer found a potential exploit in the Chrome web browser that could possibly let malicious web sites activate your Mac’s microphone and listen in on any sounds your mic might pick up around you. Even if you’re not actively using your computer, the mic could be active and conversations, meetings, and phone calls could potentially be recorded or listened in on.

Luckily, there’s a way to keep this from happening, because–however remote the possibility–it’s always a good idea to keep your private information, including real-world conversations, private.

Of course, if you don’t use the Chrome browser at all, this won’t apply to you.

media exceptions

All you need to do is launch the Chrome browser on your Mac from the Dock, the Applications folder, or with an app launcher like Alfred.

Next, type the following into the address/search bar at the top of the browser, where you usually type in a web address or search term.

chrome://settings/contentExceptions#media-stream

Click the X

This will bring up the Media Exceptions window, which will show you what websites can access your audio and video streams via your Mac’s built-in camera and microphone. Hover over the line of the site you want to revoke privileges for, click on the little X to the right of the site name, and then click Done.

Do not allow sites

If you’d like to disable your microphone altogether, type the following into the address bar:

chrome://settings/content

Then you can click on the radio button next to “Do not allow any sites to access my camera and microphone. Now no websites will be able to access your audio visual stream, no matter how malicious.

  • jblood19

    Do we need to worry about any such similar problem with our iPhones and iPads? Thank you.

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, Creative Screenwriting, Shelf-Awareness, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef, and send him a cookie once in a while; he'll really appreciate it.

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