Singapore — At least 50,000 home security cameras have been hacked with personal footage being stolen and shared online.
A report on AsiaOne shared that the rather large amount of stolen footage was uploaded onto pornographic sites, tagging many of the videos as being specifically from Singapore.
The videos are said to be between less than a minute to more than 20 minutes each, and they show a variety of homes with people in different states of undress, or in compromising positions. Many show couples, mothers who are breastfeeding, and even children.
They clearly show people in various parts of the house, including the living rooms or bedrooms. Meanwhile, others can be seen on the toilet, having left the bathroom doors slightly open.
The asiaone.com report also shared that one particular video, which was time-stamped in March 2020, displays a teenage girl surrounded by her school books wearing nothing but a T-shirt and underwear. One of the books in the footage was an O-level Ten-Year Series book, which is used by students when studying for their exams.
It was also notable that in many of the Singapore-tagged videos, the home layouts looked like typical Housing Board flats.
The report mentioned that the footage was probably from Internet Protocol (IP) cameras, which are known to be very common in Singapore homes. These cameras allow tracking for security purposes in order to assist homeowners in watching over the elderly, domestic workers, children and pets.
The authorities have found that the videos were downloaded by a group that hacks into IP cameras. The group can even be found on Discord, which is a social messaging platform that has almost 1,000 members from all over the world.
The group posted more than 3 tera bytes (TB) of video clips for 70 members who paid a subscription fee to watch the clips. Each lifetime access fee is worth US$150 (S$203).
In order to get subscribers, the group first sends a 700 MB “sample” video that has 4,000 pictures and videos of hacked materials for buyers to view.
Once people pay the fee, the group will give members a list of more than 50,000 hacked cameras that they can access. It even has special VIP members who will be instructed on how to “explore, watch live and even record” for themselves during personalised sessions.
Although the highest number of hacked videos are from victims living in Singapore, there are also some from Thailand, Canada and South Korea.
When explaining how the hacking probably occurred, solution architect for Asia-Pacific for Check Point Software Technologies, Mr Clement Lee, explained that most IP cameras are easy targets since they can be accessed via the Internet.
He said: “Hacking of IP cameras is possible if they are accessible from a central cloud service or exposed to the Internet.
“Usually, it is the result of poor password management. Never assume your camera is secure. The best way to avoid falling victim to hackers is to avoid sharing personal details online.”
Meanwhile, criminal lawyer James Ow Yong explained that even if these hackers are outside of Singapore, they can still be punishable by Singapore law since the “program or data was in Singapore at the time of the offence”.
Those who watch or share the videos can also be prosecuted for voyeurism. He added: “Where the victim is under the age of 16, the material may be considered child pornography, and such offences attract a higher range of sentences.”
According to Mr Ow Yong, those who are involved in the selling or distributing of child pornography can face charges of up to seven years in jail, fined and caned.
He added: “We also know that international and regional outfits like Interpol are quite active in finding such offenders.”
The police have urged members of the public to file reports if they suspect anyone joining in any illegal hacking activities.
They also advise everyone to secure their IP cameras by using a trusted brand, to continuously update the available software and to use strong passwords which they change on a regular basis. /TISG