police body camera

How hackers can compromise police bodycams

The body cameras law enforcement officials wear to record their actions and increase transparency could be turned against them by hackers.

At the DefCon hacker conference in Las Vegas, Josh Mitchell, a consultant at the security firm Nuix, discussed his analysis of five popular brands of police bodycams and revealed that each contains easily exploited vulnerabilities, according to a report in Wired.

Hackers could download footage from the cameras, modify it and reupload without leaving traces of manipulation or just delete it. They could track the location of the cameras (and the police wearing them), connect to a camera though its Wi-Fi access point or deliver malicious software to the devices because updates are not encrypted. Once malware is installed on a camera, it can spread to the computers used to sync and store the video and travel through a police department's network.

The rapid adoption of body-camera systems and manufacturers' push to add more functionality to them is increasing the attack surface for law enforcement agencies, many of which do not have the funding or expertise to assess the risk for protect themselves, Mitchell said in his presentation's preview.

Mitchell analyzed five cameras from among the 60 or so he said are on the market and is working with the manufacturers to address the issues he uncovered.

"It's a complex ecosystem and there are a lot of devices out there with a lot of problems," Mitchell told Wired. "These are full-feature computers walking around on your chest, and they have all of the issues that go along with that."

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.


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