Is your CCTV Camera Vulnerable to Infrared Attacks?
07-11-2017 00:00:00
Is your CCTV Camera Vulnerable to Infrared Attacks?

CCTV cameras have become inseparable part of our life, be it in your home/apartments, office, streets, market areas or retail outlet. Primarily to prevent/detect crime, these electronic third eyes can be very useful in retail business environments such as departmental stores, supermarkets, hyper markets, etc, where one can’t really have an eye on every visitor or customer. 


But do these security cameras provide full protection against the crime? Can’t they be vulnerable to attacks by fraudulent elements?
Experts believe that these security cameras installed sensitive places like ATMs and Point of Sale counters, can be invaded by infrared lights to access sensitive data like PIN and passwords.   


Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have found that since CCTV cameras,  both traditional DVR-based CCTV as well as cloud-based video systems, installed at homes, ATMs and POS are coming with infrared (IR) LEDs to provide night vision, hackers can be able to make a bi-directional secret connection with the security system to access sensitive information, clippings and data.


Known as ex-filtration method in the technical jargon, the hackers can access to the surveillance equipments through a local network using a malware and get the CCTV cameras’ IR signals to steal sensitive information such as account PINs or Passwords, which can be used for illegal purposes.


Fraudsters can easily get access to the device’s IP address, putting a lot of people, their properties and sensitive data at great risk.


In the infiltration method, the hackers, who can remain up to tens of meters away from the scene, use Infra-Red LEDs to transmit signals, not visible to human eye, to the CCTV cameras, which can be encoded the binary data like command and control messages.


“The infiltration and ex-filtration can be integrated to achieve air-gap and bidirectional communication between the CCTV network and the attacker,” said the paper published by the researchers.


The same hacking technique can be used for both home and professional security systems, including LED doorbells.


"It is possible that one can send an infrared command to instruct the high-security CCTV system to simply unlock the front door or gate of your house or office," said Dr. Mordechai Guri, head of R & D for BGU's Cyber Security Research Center (CSRC).


In retail business environments, TV security systems are primarily used to detect theft and stop pilferages of goods and money at store rooms and Point of Sale counters, respectively. 

-K Ramanathan

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