Big Security Hole in Surveillance CamerasAuthor: Ethan Ace, Published on Feb 06, 2012
The mainstream press has been abuzz with an IP camera vulnerability that allows people from anywhere on the Internet to directly and easily access TRENDnet cameras without any authentication. In this note, we explain how it was done, why we believe Trendnet engineers had to know about it and what implications this has for the rest of the surveillance industry.
While it took real skill for an outsider to find the exploit, usig the exploit itself is very simple. Basically, a standard URL exists that if entered provides direct access to the MJPEG video stream without any restrictions.
The hacker deconstructed Trendnet's firmware, manually inspecting the enclosed files. This inspection revealed multiple CGI scripts used for requesting live video. Trendnet had left a folder called 'anony' (as in anonymous access). In that folder is a file named mjpg.cgi. A request to that file returns a live video stream (e.g., http://192.168.1.17/anony/mjpg.cgi). Here's what the basic queries look like on a Linux distrobution:
The hacker then detailed a method by which users were able to search for Trendnet cameras available on the internet. Taking this information, active internet messageboards, such as Reddit and 4chan, set about finding as many open camera feeds as possible, sharing lists of IP addresses of cameras as they were found. This led to likely hundreds of readers of these sites viewing feeds and capturing stills from hundreds of IP cameras, many in private residences, along with businesses.
Some of these captures are extremely disconcerting, looking directly into users' homes:
We suspect that Trendnet engineers knew about this security flaw, simply because it is an obvious, "in plain sight" feature for an engineer, likely used as a backdoor or a shortcut by their internal team to do testing.
Trendnet has since released an apology and firmware update for affected cameras. However, notice of this firmware update was sent only to those users which registered their Trendnet camera, which is typically a small percentage. Additionally, given Trendnet's position in the industry, as a low-cost manufacturer often used for residential and small business systems by less tech-savvy users, many users will be unlikely to ever hear about this issue and subsequent fix, leaving them vulnerable indefinitely.
Implications for the Industry
While this exploit was performed on cameras from Trendnet, a minor presence in the professional surveillance industry, the implications it has for the industry as a whole are potentially huge. With so many different IP cameras available, chances are high that issues such as this exist in other manufactuers' lines. The exact hole will likely not be the same but the end result may be.
Cameras in corporate environments may be of less concern, as they are most often running on networks behind firewalls, internal to a facility. However, an attacker who gains access to the network could still use holes such as these to view feeds directly from cameras.
Other Report on Trendnet
Most Recent Industry Reports
Average Frame Rate Video Surveillance 2016 on Feb 11, 2016
What is the average frame rated used in video surveillance systems? Historically, 30fps has been...
Goodbye Dropcam, the $50 Home Security Camera Era Is Here on Feb 10, 2016
Remember those days not too long ago where a $200 home security camera with a $100 per year for s...
Hikvision H.264+ Tested on Feb 10, 2016
Is 'regular' H.264 soon to be a thing of the past? Last year, Axis started the 'smart' H.264 tre...
Camera Coverage Areas on Feb 10, 2016
How wide and far on an area can a camera cover? A fundamental metric in analyzing this is pixel...
US Capital Paying for Homes and Business to Get Security Cameras on Feb 09, 2016
Since 9/11, US cities have spent hundreds of millions collectively on city-wide video surveillanc...
Brivo Access Control Company Profile on Feb 09, 2016
This is our 9th in a series of access control company profiles. In this entry, we cover Brivo. P...
Axis Is In Denial About HD Analog on Feb 08, 2016
For more than a decade, Axis' #1 argument against analog has been no HD. This, of course, is no...
Surveillance Commissioning / Install Checklist on Feb 08, 2016
This 60+ point checklist helps end users, integrators and consultants verify that installation is...
Favorite Camera Manufacturers 2016 on Feb 08, 2016
The market has changed significantly since 2014, where our previous Favorite Camera Manufacturer ...
Mega Chinese Electronics Manufactuer Xiaomi Yi Camera Tested on Feb 05, 2016
Xiaomi's revenue is 4 to 5 times larger than Hikvision's. Only in business for 5 years, Xiaomi ha...