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Researchers warn of shoddy security in surveillance cameras

01 May 2013
Security threats - password theft

Users and administrators are being warned to update firmware for certain IP-enabled surveillance cameras following the discovery of security flaws that could allow an attacker to remotely spy on video streams.

Researchers from Core Security said they have uncovered serious flaws in camera models from D-Link and Vivotek, which included remote access to camera feeds and the ability to control hardware.

According to Core Security, its researchers have uncovered a number of flaws in both companies' platforms, which could also be exploited to remotely install and execute code on a targeted unit and harvest account credentials from a compromised system, potentially opening the door for a much larger attack.

Researchers also pointed out a number of sloppy security practices in the firmware of the camera units, such as hardwiring in set passwords and storing account credentials and access keys unencrypted as clear text. Other flaws were found to yield user credentials through memory dumps.

Core Security said that it has worked with D-Link to deploy a patch for the affected models, though other units could potentially by impacted by similar security issues. The company did not receive any word back from Vivotek.

Security researchers have in the past warned of security holes resulting from poorly secured appliances and peripheral devices. IP-enabled appliances such as printers and scanners can be vulnerable to similar attacks that could allow an outside attacker to snoop on network activities and corporate data.

Paul Ducklin, head of technology in the Asia Pacific region for Sophos, said that the fundamental nature of many of the flaws was a particularly egregious offence on the part of the vendors themselves. He advised administrators to keep peripheral devices updated and to always be sure devices such as surveillance equipment are as secure as other network components.

"Security patches for hardware devices like routers, printers and cameras are often overlooked," Ducklin wrote.

"Always-on devices like routers and cameras are typically part of your security infrastructure, so a compromise on one of them could facilitate the compromise of your whole network."

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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