Beyond creepy: 150,000 security cameras hacked


(Photo by Joe Kovacs)

The Electronic Privacy Information Center long has warned that security cameras in Amazon’s Ring network can be hacked.

The doorbell cameras are part of the largely “unregulated surveillance and data collection” systems that contemporary technology has made possible, EPIC noted Friday. Ring cameras often capture images to which facial recognition software can be applied, the organization has warned.

Now, EPIC is spotlighting a breach of surveillance cameras linked by Verkada, a surveillance company that has services in hospitals, schools, homes and prisons.

The hack of the system exposed video from some 150,000 security cameras, EPIC said.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that in one hacked video, “a woman in a hospital room watches over someone sleeping in an intensive-care-unit bed. In another, a man and three young children celebrate one Sunday afternoon over a completed puzzle in a carpeted playroom.”

Such “private” moments were exposed because of internet-linked cameras.

“With a single breach, those scenes … were suddenly revealed to hackers, who had used high-level log-in credentials to access and plunder Verkada’s vast camera network,” the report said.

The breach “highlighted a central vulnerability undermining the modern web: As more companies race to amass vast stores of sensitive data, they are also becoming more fruitful targets for attack and making it that much easier for thousands of unaware people to be suddenly exposed,” the Post said.

Andrew G. Ferguson, a law professor at American University Washington College of Law, told the Post that the breach “should be a wake-up call to the dangers of self-surveillance.”

“We are building networks of surveillance we cannot escape from without really thinking about the consequences. Our desire for some fake sense of security is its own security threat,” he said.

A spokesman for the company, which insists its system is secure “from the ground up,” said the unauthorized access is being blocked and an investigation is underway.

The Post reported Tillie Kottmann, a member of the “hacktivist” collective Advanced Persistent Threat 69420, said a team of fewer than 10 people stumbled onto log-in details for a Verkada ‘Super Admin’ account that had been publicly exposed on the web.

That allowed access to “real-time” video, Kottman said.

Cameras were hacked at churches, volunteer fire departments, hotels, sports bars, rehabilitation centers and children’s foster-care homes, as well as major tech companies, including Cloudflare, the Post reported.

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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