Why Computer Security And Common Sense Are Both Important

Why, I have to ask, would anyone be dumb enough to fall for this:

Fullerton, Calif. • A Southern California computer repairman suspected of installing spyware on laptops that enabled him to snap and download photographs of women showering and undressing in their homes was arrested Wednesday at his home, police said.

Police began investigating when a Fullerton resident complained about suspicious messages appearing on his daughter’s computer last year. Trevor Harwell installed software that took control of computer webcams on his clients’ Mac laptops, Fullerton police Sgt. Andrew Goodrich said. He was released later Wednesday after posting $50,000 bond, Goodrich said.

The software sent fake error messages telling users to “fix their internal sensor soon,” and “try putting your laptop near hot steam for several minutes to clean the sensor,” Goodrich said.

The error message prompted some victims to take their laptops into the bathroom with them when they showered, he 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. Harwell then stored the photos on a remote server, and eventually downloaded them on his own computer.”

Detectives seized hundreds of thousands of still images and videos from Harwell’s computer and identified several victims, Goodrich said.

Investigators believe Harwell, a technician for Rezitech Inc., may have exploited computers connected to Biola University’s internal network. Harwell, 20, is a former student at the La Mirada Christian college, where many of the victims attended.

Seriously, who would take their laptop in the shower because of an error message?


FILED UNDER: Open Forum,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly (used to be tom p) says:

    Seriously, who would take their laptop in the shower because of an error message?

    Uhhhhhh…… me?

    Actually, I would ask my wife first.

  2. CB says:

    two thoughts…

    1- how dense can you be to think that steam will ‘clean your sensor’

    2- all that work for some stills of marginally attractive women? isnt that what the internet is for?

  3. Brett says:

    It is pretty silly. If I got an error message like that, I wouldn’t take the thing into the shower with me. I’d suspect that my computer had malware on it.