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More IP camera footage posted to porn sites

Sept 23,2017
Earlier this year, a woman discovered the camera she had installed in her living room was being used to film her while she was in her underwear, and another woman found she had been recorded while naked and that the footage was later leaked online.

A third woman found that since last April, the camera she had installed in her clothing store to prevent theft was being used to record her while she changed clothes. Police later confirmed the footage was being spread on pornographic sites.

The Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency’s Cyber Investigation Division arrested a 23-year-old man surnamed Lim and one other on charges of hacking the data communication network and indicted 11 others without detention, marking the largest such case police have ever come across.

Lim has been charged with hacking into 1,402 IP cameras to illegally spy on women and circulate the footage online. Lim and his companions have illegally accessed IP cameras a total of 2,354 times.

Police have also arrested 37 others without detention on charges of circulating IP camera footage. Police were able to track these hackers down by looking for the distributors of IP camera footage on pornographic sites.

“The hackers claim to have been driven by mere curiosity,” a police spokesman said, “but their crime is punishable by imprisonment of up to 5 years or a fine of up to 50 million won [$43,879].”

The spokesman added, “People who circulate such recordings are categorized as sex offenders and could have their identity disclosed to the public.”

According to the security industry, an IP camera is a type of network camera that requires users to have an IP address that they will use for external control. But if the IP address is exposed, it can be easily accessed by a third party. Some cheaper cameras imported from China are particularly vulnerable to hackers.

IP cameras, unlike closed-circuit television (CCTV), can be used to film and transfer high-quality videos when connected to the internet. Their features also include angle control and zooming.

IP cameras are easier to install than CCTVs and some cheaper models can be bought for as little as 20,000 to 50,000 won. The market for IP cameras is steadily expanding and they are now so accessible that people use them not only to prevent break-ins, but also to supervise pets at home.

With the growing supply of IP cameras, there has been a corresponding rise in incidents of privacy invasion. Last April, footage from an IP camera was circulated on a Chinese pornographic site. Some users have even claimed to see their IP camera move by itself or have heard unfamiliar sounds coming from their IP camera speakers.

Many are turning to the internet to find advice on how to prevent their IP cameras from being hacked.

Han In-soo, the director of Penta Security Systems, a Korean company specializing in security, recommends creating a difficult password, changing it frequently and turning off one’s IP camera or covering its lens once back home.

BY KIM MIN-WOOK [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]