Stunt highlights the need for greater security awareness

| 3/12/2014 |

A privately-funded international awareness campaign that uses computer software to identify unprotected or poorly-protected CCTV camera footage has gained a lot of attention in Vietnam after 935 Vietnamese camera feeds were hacked into and streamed online via website insecam.com. During the second week of November, a number of Vietnamese factories, retail areas and schools were affected by the security breach. The website, which claims to be “designed in order to show the importance of the security settings”, made use of robots able to trawl the internet for transmissions from cameras that had not been password-protected or that were using generic and easy-to-hack passwords such as ‘admin’ or ‘camera’. Users of the website could, without registering or making any payment, observe all of the hacked cameras including those showing footage of people in their homes who were unaware that they were being watched. Whilst on this occasion the streams obtained were placed online in a seemingly benevolent effort to raise awareness of the need for more attention to technological security, the fact that the website was able to so easily gain access to the camera feeds has worrying implications for such information could be exploited by those with more malicious intentions. The opportunity to observe goings-on within a factory or warehouse could serve to facilitate unauthorized access, theft, or other operational disruptions. As the website owners stress, the simple solution to this problem is to avoid using generic passwords when installing cameras linked to a network within your home or business. The campaign, despite receiving criticism for breaching people’s privacy, does nonetheless seem to have proven effective. Globally, of the 160,000 camera feeds that were placed online, 97,000 have had their operators become aware of the problem and establish more robust security settings. Within Vietnam, less than 90 of the camera feeds originally targeted by the site remain online.

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