Crime

Ex-NSA Expert: Common Security Camera Systems Can be Easily Hacked to Spy on You

Photo credit: Shutterstock

surveillance camera (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

Like a scene from an action film, a former NSA software developer is saying he has identified how major camera systems could be hacked to freeze a frame and allow nefarious activity to take place without being seen on the feed.

Craig Heffner, who now works with Tactical Network Solutions in Maryland, is planning to demonstrate how the camera systems in many sensitive facilities -- prisons, banks, military bases, etc. -- are vulnerable to hacking, according to Reuters.

The digital video systems that could be compromised include those by big names like Cisco Systems Inc, D-Link Corp and TRENDnet. The hack is done through the public Internet and is one where the perpetrator would be able to keep the frame on a certain image or could spy through it.

"It's a significant threat," he told Reuters. "Somebody could potentially access a camera and view it. Or they could also use it as a pivot point, an initial foothold, to get into the network and start attacking internal systems."

Heffner will present his findings at the Black Hat hacker conference, which begins July 31 in Las Vegas and has Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, as its keynote speaker. He said he doesn't plan on revealing the vulnerabilities to the companies ahead of the conference, but all the companies have expressed that they'll stay tuned to make any necessary fixes.

In addition to camera hacks that could be tricking security crews into missing what's really going on by skewing the feed, TheBlaze has previously reported on hackers being able to peer into homes and businesses with unsecured cameras. TRENDnet had a coding issue that was posting a video feed on the Internet in 2012, which it then released firmware update to fix.

Laptop cameras are also vulnerable to hacking as well through a technique using RATs (remote administration tools), which give hackers complete control of your computer, including turning cameras on and off to spy on users.

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