Digital Life

Canberrans' privacy compromised in security camera hack

Privacy breach: Security camera footage of a Canberra shopping centre from website Insecam.
Privacy breach: Security camera footage of a Canberra shopping centre from website Insecam. 

On a warm summers day in the ACT a couple cheekily kiss among the shelves of a Canberra store, not knowing they're being watched by a security camera – and the entire world.

Nearly 1000 security camera feeds from around Australia, including eight feeds and 46 cameras in the ACT region, can be watched online at the website Insecam, which features tens of thousands of cameras from around the world.

Among the ACT security cameras which can be viewed online are a number of shopping centres, the backroom of a chemist and a residential driveway.

The cameras' longitude and latitude has been posted along with the live feed, as well the login and password which are often "admin" or "12345".

The IP address of Insecam is linked to Moscow.

University of Canberra Centre of Internet Safety director Nigel Phair said said it was the responsibility of security systems owners to secure their own devices and protect the privacy of their fellow Canberrans.

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He said the website had huge implications from a privacy perspective.

"For the average man on the streets there's security cameras everywhere and if we want the general population to accept we require security cameras to have safer amenities generally, we're not going to do it by having them wonder who has access to this camera," Mr Phair said.

UNSW's Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre co-convenor David Vaile said people should think twice before using internet-connected security devices.

"This is a great illustration of the illusion of security coming from surveillance and in fact you're getting the opposite, you're getting increase risk of unwanted and possibly quite hostile misuse of your information," he said.

Mr Phair said incidents such as this where people's privacy was compromised were likely to become more common as more devices become connected to the internet.

He said it was a timely reminder for everyone to buff up their internet security.

"I'm a believer, it's great people do things like put security cameras on the internet so they can monitor them remotely, but that's only great when there's security attached to it," he said.