Lack of encryption leaves connected cameras highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks

Lack of inbuilt encryption in connected cameras around the world have rendered them highly vulnerable to malicious cyber-attacks.

The US-based Freedom of the Press Foundation has highlighted security vulnerabilities in connected cameras and how it puts them and their work at risk.

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Point-to-shoot cameras are quickly paving the way for more sophisticated Wi-Fi cameras and digital cameras which can be connected to the internet. While these ensure that users can upload their pictures on social media sites straight from their cameras, they also leave users vulnerable to cyber-attacks because of lack of inbuilt encryption protocols.

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In a letter to the likes of Sony, Nikon, Canon and Olympus in December of last year, the US-based Freedom of the Press Foundation expressed their concerns with the lack of inbuilt encryption in digital and connected cameras. “Because the contents of their cameras are not and cannot be encrypted, there is no way to protect any of the footage once it has been taken. This puts ourselves, our sources, and our work at risk," it said.

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Millions of people around the world are now using connected cameras to capture images instead of point-and-shoot ones. Traditional camera giants are now releasing more connected cameras than ever before, but unlike manufacturers of other hardware products, are not investing enough to secure user content via encryption. For the same reason, images stored in smartphones are more secure than the ones in connected cameras.

“We face a critical gap between the moment we shoot our footage and the first opportunity to get that footage on to more secure devices," the Foundation added.

The Foundation also urged camera makers to ensure images are encrypted and prevented from falling into the wrong hands. "Building encryption into your products is not just about helping the filmmakers and photojournalists who buy them, but about making the world a better place," it said.

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"As filmmakers and photojournalists, we use our lenses to hold powerful people to account — and ultimately to change society for the better. Encryption features will allow us to continue to tell the most important stories, from some of the most dangerous places in the world.

"You can help us reach that goal by starting to work towards building encryption into your camera products," it concluded.