Feeds

'Video-hams' tap into insecure surveillance cams

i-Spy

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Surveillance cameras outfitted with internet technology are open to tampering and interception, security experts warn.

IP cameras, widely available from around £70 and not to be confused with web-cams that connect directly into PCs, connect into corporate computer network or domestic broadband systems and are capable of transmitting live footage or individual images across the internet. However these systems are often set up without bothering to configure security settings (such as password protection), an omission that means nominally private cams can be viewed over the net by so-called "video hams".

By using search engines such as Google, snoopers can locate and view hundreds of unprotected cameras, according to Robert Schifreen, IT security consultant and author of the book Defeating The Hacker. Insecure cameras can be easily located using search strings such as "inurl:CgiStart?page=Single" or "axis inurl:view/index.shtml", to produce interesting results (as illustrated by Schifreen here).

The problem is compounded by the inclusion in many systems of so-called "PTZ" features, which allow surveillance cameras to be panned, tilted and zoomed remotely so that the operator can focus on a person or activity of particular interest. Wi-Fi versions of video surveillance cams have made it possible to install systems in a wider number of locations, further exacerbating the issue.

"Allowing your company's surveillance system to be visible over the internet is just asking for trouble", said Schifreen. "There are serious privacy issues in allowing the general public to watch your staff going about their work behind closed office doors. Allowing your competitors to see how your company operates is madness. And unfettered access to PTZ facilities makes it simple for a thief or shoplifter to divert a camera away from where he intends to strike."

"We're not talking about hobby webcams here, which were always intended to be viewable by the general public", Schifreen added. "The systems being targeted by video hams are private surveillance cameras. All of which come with security facilities such as password protection built in, if only the purchasers were aware of them."

Users deploying IP camera for surveillance ought to enable the camera's in-built password protection, rather than allowing images to be openly accessible to anyone who knows how to use a search engine. In corporate environments, video surveillance traffic needs to be kept to the confines of internal networks, using appropriate firewall rules. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
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
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Putin: Crack Tor for me and I'll make you a MILLIONAIRE
Russian Interior Ministry offers big pile o' roubles for busting pro-privacy browser
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.