Week 14 – News Digest

Russian website streams thousands of private webcams

November 20, 2014: 10:04 AM ET



In Russia, a team of hackers formed a website that streams live video footage from thousands of private webcams around the world. In some of the live footage, the hackers have streamed babies in cribs sleeping and patients at hospitals. The hackers have been able to get into the private cameras so easily because the cameras passwords were the default passwords set by their manufacturers. After the hackers gained the passwords, they would post the log-in information to their website to anyone who wanted to access the unsecured webcams. The owners of the cameras have installed them to try to increase their security, but the Russian hackers have provided public access to them which reveals some of the owners intimate moments. The website so far, has revealed 4,600 live streams in the United States, 2,000 in France, 1,500 in the Netherlands. Each link to a camera provided you the GPS location, postcode, time zone, and a map showing where its exact location is. Apparently, the websites motive is to bring more awareness to the problem and that it should be addressed.


Cellphone tracking: Find an address? Easy. But new devices can calculate your altitude.

November 19 at 9:00 PM


For the longest time cellphones have acted as tracking devices that reveal your location to police, paramedics, and other people. But there is one form of tracking that has been a challenge for cellphone engineers to provide until now, which is altitude. Soon it will be possible to not only see what building you are in but also the exact floor you’re currently on. This new technology has positive effects, like helping a fire rescue team find the exact location a person is in a building engulfed in flames. But many privacy advocates believe intelligence agencies like the FBI, CIA, etc and hackers could use this to track you. Many lobbyists have gotten into a political fight between some public safety groups supporting the FCC’s strict rules and wireless carriers that want to slow down the process of cellphone technology.


Amnesty releases anti-spying program for activists

19 November 2014


A international company called Amnesty has released a program that allows the detection of spying software that governments use to keep tabs on activists and political opponents. Amnesty said that many governments have been using a sophisticated spying tools that could grab images from webcams or listen to microphones to monitor people. They used tools that are marketed on how it’s able to get around your standard anti-virus. The makers of the spying software did strenuous testing to ensure that the way they sneaked around on a computer didn’t trigger security alerts. But now since Amnesty has created the anti-spying software called Detekt, the government will have to think twice about what activists they are trying to peruse. As of right now, Detekt is free and the first version has been written to run on Window computers because the people being monitored mostly use that software. The trade in spyware that’s used by governments around the world is now a market worth about $5 billion a year and Amnesty believed it was time for the trade to be better regulated.


NSA Director confirms that China and other countries can hack and shut down critical systems

Published November 20, 2014


The NSA director, Admiral Michael Rogers has stated that China and one or two other countries in the world could possibly start a cyber attack that can terminate the electric grid in different places of the United States.  The theory of such cyber attacks by these foreign hackers has been known for a long period of time, but has never been confirmed to the nation by our NSA director until now. The adversaries are constructing electronic “reconnaissance”  on a daily basis so when the perfect time comes to attack, they can shut down industrial control systems that run everything from chemical facilities to water treatment plants. But it seems if this would happen, there would be a mutual deterrence, because the U.S. has enough Cyber Command officials to do the same thing to China.


Democrats on House oversight panel ask when data breach was discovered, how it was fixed

Published November 17, 2014


Democrats have demanded answers this past week about a potential cyber-attack that shut down the State’s Department’s unclassified email system. The letter was sent to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting details and when it was first discovered. Apparently, the email system was still down a day after the department disabled it over a breach several weeks ago which was led to believe it was to target the White House. Now the State Department has said two breaches now appear to be in scandal. Investigations are still being made to find who or what launched the attack.