Australian Webcams Hacked, Videos Posted on YouTube

by Samuel Abasi Posted on June 5th, 2018

Canberra, Australia: A large number of Australian webcams were hacked by a group pretending to be computer technicians. The scammers targeted and secretly filmed dozens of Australians in their own homes, luring them in through fake tech support websites.

The hackers tricked their victims into paying them big money to fix technical glitches that were never even there. They would then gain access to people’s webcams and record them.

They also made the victims record a short statement, “I’m very happy with the service I have received today.”

The scammers then posted the videos to their YouTube channel, using their testimonials to convince future targets that their services were legitimate.

One victim from Monash University, medical Professor Geoff Sussman, was tricked into paying $1,590 when the scammers accessed his computer.

He managed to get his bank to reverse the transaction, but the experience was deeply frustrating.

Many victims were shocked when they learned that they had been recorded and that their videos were posted online

A few weeks back,  unidentified hackers stole over 400 million pesos ($20 million) from Mexican bank accounts, local media reported.

The Banorte bank incurred the largest losses, with about 150 million pesos ($7.7 million) diverted from its accounts, the Financiero portal reported on Monday. The bank has been so far the only financial institution which admitted the fact of the cyberattack, noting that its clients’ bank accounts had not been affected.

BanBajio is another major bank which was reportedly hit by the cyberattacks, however it denies the reports. Meanwhile, experts estimated the banks’ losses at 160 million pesos ($8.2 million).
A series of cyberattacks on Mexican banks were reportedly carried out in April and May and lasted for several days.

Three years ago, the Mexican banking system was targeted by a number of cyberattacks which resulted in 50 million pesos ($2.6 million) worth of losses.

The Cobalt hacker group became known for its attacks on a number of banks in the CIS counties and Eastern Europe in 2016. The group always uses phishing emails in its fraud schemes, which enable it to gain access to banks’ internal networks, in particular, to ATMs management system. In February, Deputy Governor of the Russian Central Bank Dmitry Skobelkin announced that the group has carried out 11 successful attacks on the Russian banks in 2017. The hacker group’s leader was arrested in March in Spain, but the attacks nevertheless continued.

Then FBI director James Comey recently recommended that we all cover our webcams with tape for security reasons. Comey believes that doing so is a simple step for people to “take responsibility for their own safety and security.”

During a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, when then FBI Director Comey was asked that he still put tape over his cameras at home, he replied:

“Heck yeah, heck yeah. And also, I get mocked for a lot of things, and I am much mocked for that, but I hope people lock their cars… lock your doors at night. I have an alarm system. If you have an alarm system you should use it, I use mine.”

Comey went on to explain that it was common practice at the FBI and other government offices to cover computers and laptops’ webcams with tape or any physical cover.

“It’s not crazy that the FBI Director cares about personal security as well,” he continued. “If you go into any government office, we all have our little camera things that sit on top of the screen, they all have a little lid that closes down on them, you do that, so people who do not have authority don’t look at you, I think that’s a good thing.”

Comey believes that putting a cover over webcams is one of the “sensible things” that everyone should be doing to “take responsibility for their own safety and security.”

While this practice is often made fun of, tapping your device’s webcams is a good take away for you to adopt. We know the FBI and NSA’s ability to spread malware and turn on device’s webcam to spy on targets.

Edward Snowden Leaks revealed the NSA’s Optic Nerve operation that was carried out to capture webcam images every 5 minutes from random Yahoo users, and in just six months, images of 1.8 Million users’ were captured and stored on the government servers in 2008.

In 2010, a Pennsylvania school narrowly escaped criminal charges when it was caught secretly taking photos of students through the webcams on school-issued laptops. Harriton High School student Blake Robbins filed a civil suit, and the FBI launched an investigation when he found out school employees had photographed him 400 times over a two-week period — sometimes when he was partially undressed or sleeping. School officials said they had a tracking system for finding lost or stolen laptops but admitted that the software program took images every 15 minutes without telling the user. It turns out they’d snapped around 56,000 privacy-violating pictures of students.

However, putting a tape over the lens of your computer’s webcam would not solve the problem, especially in this era when we are surrounded by so many Internet-connected devices that are a security nightmare.

Due to the insecure implementation, these Internet-connected or Internet of Things (IoTs) devices, including Security Cameras, are so vulnerable that hackers are routinely hijacking them and using them as weapons in cyber attacks.

So, it is far more easy for hackers to hack your security cameras, instead of your laptop’s webcam, to keep track on you and your environment.

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Samuel Abasi

Samuel Abasi

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