Hackers infiltrate 150,000 Silicon Valley security cameras

The hack has so far exposed schools,jails, hospitals and even big companies such as Tesla

Photo: Bloomberg via Tillie Kottmann Madison County Jail seen through a Verkada camera.

A group of hackers announced on Tuesday that they have viewed live and archived surveillance footage from a huge trove of security-cameras, initially collected by the Silicon Valley startup called Verkada Inc. The hackers were reportedly able to gain access to a whopping 150,000 live feed surveillance cameras located inside hospitals, schools, and even prisons, Tech TImes reports.

A number of company footage was also exposed and this even included the footage from carmaker Tesla, transportation technology startup Virgin Hyperloop as well as the popular software provider known as Cloudflare Inc., according to a separate article by The Verge. To top all this off, hackers were also able to gain access to video coming from inside of certain women's psychiatric hospitals and health clinics as well as the main offices of Verkada itself. 

A number of the cameras, which included hospitals, make use of the new facial-recognition technology in order to identify as well as categorise the certain people that are shown on the footage. Hackers also note that they have access to the complete video archive coming from all of the Verkada customers.

According to the story from Bloomberg, a certain Verkada camera that was inside the Florida hospital known as Halifax Health actually showed what first appeared to be eight different hospital staffers all tackling a man and even pinning him to a bed.

Halifax Health is also featured on Verkada's official public-facing website in a certain case study focusing on How a certain Florida Healthcare provider was able to easily update and deploy a certain "scalable HIPAA compliant security system."

The recent data breach was reportedly done by some international hacker collective and was done in order to show the pervasiveness of general video surveillance as well as the ease with which particular systems can easily be broken into. This was according to Tillie Kottmann who was one of the hackers that had claimed credit for being able to breach the San Mateo, California-based Verkada.

Kottman then noted that the hackers claimed credit for even being able to hack Intel corp., and even another carmaker known as Nissan Motor Co. Kottman also noted that the main reason for the recent hacks are basically lots of curiosity as well as the fight for freedom of information as well as against intellectual property. It was noted to be a huge dose of anti-capitalism with a little hint of anarchy and it was also noted to be "just too much fun" not to do it.

A Verkada spokesperson then released a statement saying they have disabled all of the internal administrator accounts in order to prevent any particular unauthorised access. It was said that the internal security team, as well as the external security firm, are all now investigating the scale as well as the scope of the whole issue and that they have notified the official law enforcement.

Verkada says on its website it has over 5,200 customers, including cities, colleges and hotels. Its cameras have proved popular because they pair with software to search for specific people or items. Users can access feeds remotely through the cloud.

In a 2018 interview with Reuters, Chief Executive Filip Kaliszan said Verkada had deliberately made it easy for many users at an organisation to watch live video feeds and securely share them, such as with emergency responders. The company, however, drew scrutiny last year after Vice reported that some employees had used these company cameras and its facial recognition technology to take and share photos of female colleagues. Kaliszan later described the behavior as “egregious” and said three people had been fired over the incident.

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