Robbers use CCTV footage to plan break-ins

With CCTV cameras becoming common for security and surveillance, hackers are having an easy run tracking real-time visuals from cameras and misusing them including for planning robberies. Cybersecurity experts fear if proper preventive measures are not taken, the very purpose of CCTV surveillance will be compromised. Also, the ease with which criminals can hack will jeopardise the system.

Already, a couple of websites in India are providing live feeds of visuals from third-party CCTVs to expose the surveillance cameras’ vulnerability. Ajay Sabu Jacob, the founder of Dataleaks, which has hacked into over 30 CCTV networks across major cities in India, said: “It’s quite easy to hack into any CCTV network which works on the Internet of Things (IoT). We’re streaming live feeds from 30 cameras which we’ve hacked into. Our aim is to create awareness on the vulnerability of the CCTV cameras.”

“Security is a costly affair. Though people install CCTVs for security purpose, they don’t give much importance to plug the loopholes and thus prevent hackers from getting into the system,” said cybersecurity expert Manu P Zacharia, a Data Security Council of India member. “People installing the cameras rarely change the default passwords exposing them to malicious code for years. Hackers can easily log on to the entire Wi-Fi networks simply by retrieving the password stored in a device,” said Manu.

Zacharia said the makers of the so-called IoT products rarely protect them from simple cyber attacks. “Users can protect their home devices by using hard-to-guess passwords,” said Manu. Already, there have been innumerable cases where CCTV footage was compromised. Experts say ATMs are the most vulnerable as criminals could easily capture their PINs. “Even through a Google search, one can easily find how to hack into CCTV cameras,” said a police officer. Kerala Police Information Technology wing SP J Jayanath said though hackers are having a free run, the police’s surveillance system was encrypted and has all protocols in place to prevent hacking. “There are certain tools which can be used to prevent hacking,” he said. Though India’s CCTV security surveillance market is growing exponentially, an average IP-based camera has zero security.