It’s not exactly a walk in the park when a cash register gets infected, but when technology on the front lines of law enforcement is infected out of the box, we have an entirely new set of nightmares to keep us up at night. It’s bad enough that our military is using 14 year-old software to operate the most powerful naval fleet in the world, and now we have to worry about police officers trying to do an already tough job with infected body cameras. As of this writing, the manufacturer of the devices has yet to comment, but according to the security firm assisting law enforcement agencies with the implementation of these devices, the cameras are shipping with the Conficker worm, a virulent strain of malware that first appeared in 2008 and continues to exploit unpatched Windows machines to this day.
What this means for you:
The more savvier among you may have already posed the question, “How on earth does a simple flash memory-based camera get a virus infection?” The original success of the Conficker worm actually came from its ability to spread via USB devices through a well-known weakness in Windows operating systems: the short-lived “autorun on insert” functionality would execute a script on an infected thumb drive, infect the host computer with the Conficker virus, which would in turn search for any attached networks and other USB devices to infect. Police body cameras are designed to record data to built-in flash memory, and then have that data transferred via USB to a computer. See where this is going? Imagine your local, overworked Police Departments now being overrun by a 6 year-old virus. On top of this, it’s not a stretch to imagine savvy defense attorneys calling into question the integrity of video footage captured by compromised hardware. Though Confickers true purpose was never discovered, it infected millions of PCs. It’s not hard to imagine a new wave of malware infections brought on by untested and widely available devices like web cameras, USB chargers and many other devices that make up the rapidly growing “internet of things.”
Fortunately for the law enforcement agencies that purchased the equipment, their integrator was on their game and detected the infection before the cameras were put into the field. This only came about because the computers to which the cameras were attached were protected by up-to-date and reputable antimalware software. While it won’t be the magic bullet we all wish existed, solid antimalware protection will go a long way towards preventing disaster in your organization. Don’t skimp in this regard – it might put more at risk than you think.