Feeds

Google exposes web surveillance cams

Access all areas

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Blogs and message forums buzzed this week with the discovery that a pair of simple Google searches permits access to well over 1,000 unprotected surveillance cameras around the world - apparently without their owners' knowledge.

Searching on certain strings within a URL sniffs out networked cameras that have Web interfaces permitting their owners to view them remotely, and even direct the cameras' motorized pan-and-tilt mechanisms from the comfort of their own desktop.

Video surfers are using this knowledge to peek in on office and restaurant interiors, a Japanese barnyard, women doing laundry, the interior of an Internet collocation facility, and a cage full of rodents, among other things, in locales scattered around the world.

News of the panoptical search queries apparently began on a community web forum, then spread to the widely-read BoingBoing weblog Wednesday and Thursday.

In the past, geeks wanting to peek in on surveillance cams have driven around with receivers and special antenna rigs to pick up signals from wireless cameras.

One of the Google search strings circulating summons a list of nearly 1,000 installed network cameras made by Swedish-based Axis Communications, the other turns up about 500 cameras sold by Panasonic. Neither company could be reached after hours Friday.

According to their websites, both companies offer the ability to password-protect the Web interfaces to their cameras, and Axis has a feature that blocks access to webcams from all but approved Internet IP addresses. t's not apparent whether the security features are enabled by default. A FAQ on Panasonic's website includes a warning that their network cameras may not be right for "sensitive applications," and sports a broad disclaimer: "No specific claims are made pertaining to specific levels of security the camera offers."

Copyright © 2005, SecurityFocus logo

Related stories

Meet the Peeping Tom worm
Do webcams break when Tony Blair walks by?
The Google attack engine

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.