Cyber makes it secure

Issue 2 2021 Cyber Security

A recent hacking operation made headlines when it was reported that 150 000 security cameras inside Tesla, schools, hospitals and prisons were exposed to the public. The target of the attack, Verkada, is a cloud surveillance operator that supplies its own hardware and stores video for clients in the cloud.

The hacker group supposedly found the administrator password ‘on the Internet’ and had access to the video feeds of a variety of organisations that had decided to put all their eggs into the Verkada basket. More information is available at Hackers gain access to feeds of 150,000 security cameras inside Tesla, schools, hospitals and prisons, reports say | The Independent

Stas Protassov, Acronis co-founder and technology president, commented on the event, making it crystal clear (once again) that physical security is not security unless it has also been cyber-secured.

The hacker group doesn't seem to be after money – would you classify this as cyber activism or is there a hidden goal?

Protassov: While the true motivation of the group remains hidden, it looks like cyber activism – a breach aiming to expose the poor security state of CCTV cameras. However, keep in mind that these compromised devices could also be used to install malware and start DDoS attacks, as well as infiltrate connected networks – with profit to be gained.

Do you believe this will reflect poorly on the adoption of facial recognition technology?

Protassov: It is quite possible that this will further spread the fear of a monitoring state where privacy of the individual is lost – without a doubt, it will be the biggest privacy concern of the new decade.

How secure are CCTV systems on average? Seems the attack was successful despite being unsophisticated.

Protassov: Unfortunately, CCTV cameras have been attacked successfully for years now. Search engines, such as Shodan, show millions of unprotected CCTV cameras exposed to the Internet around the world. For example, two years ago Ring cameras were a huge target.

I’m not surprised this happened. Unauthorised access incidents have been an issue for years, it’s sad to see that the awareness is still low. Very often, such incidents happen due to bad configuration or weak default passwords that allow the attacker access to the system – as in this case - but there are many vulnerable systems that cause this as well.

How can companies/people protect against such attacks? Which tools/practices should they use?

Protassov: They must secure the configuration, restrict access where it must be restricted, remove default accounts and use strong passwords. They also have to update frequently, monitor the access logs and separate devices from the rest of the network whenever possible.

As for the public service structures, such as police departments, they could be prohibited by local government from using cloud-based solutions for such purposes.

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