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Firm threatens action against CCTV whistleblower

Takes exception to him going public

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A row has broken out between a supplier of secure CCTV products and a whistle blower who discovered a vulnerability with the company's products that allowed world+dog to view static images from any camera connected to its servers.

The flaw affects The LookC 4x4 server and Pro IX server, some of which are installed in primary and secondary schools, and requires no authentication to exploit, according to Mike Stephens, the security researcher who discovered the bug. Vulnerable servers might be found via a simple Google search. Live streaming feeds could be obtained from vulnerable CCTV installation simply by repeatedly pressing refresh.

Stephens said he informed LookC about the flaw on 9 September and went public with the vulnerability on 12 September, via a security advisory on his website. He promoted the post on the Free PC Help Forums via Digg.

However following threats of police involvement Mike pulled the posts, at least temporarily.

LookC issued a statement on Friday admitting there was an issue with older versions of its product line-up but disputing the timeline of events detailed by Stephens.

A problem concerning the live image acquisition by unauthorised internet users was reported to us on 12 September 2008. We immediately located the bug and are currently in the process of sending out notices and fixes to our customers. This is the first such vulnerability to be found in the LookC CCTV server products and relates to older discontinued products. These products however are still fully supported by LookC Ltd

If there are any concerned users who are not registered and have not been issued with a fix automatically please contact our main switchboard 0191 229 5720 immediately for advice and support.

The statement, issued by LookC managing director Bob Golightly, is highly critical of Stephens.

The person who highlighted the vulnerability to us also saw fit to publicise the means of hacking the LookC servers on the internet and then to log on to other blogs to point other internet users and hackers to the article. We can only guess at the motivation behind this action but have not ruled out criminal intent. LookC Ltd have asked the police to look into the matter and the individual concerned.

Blimey.

Stephens could not be reached for comment in response to LookC's threats at the time of going to press on Friday afternoon (19 September). ®

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