Modern cameras are vulnerable to ransomware and malware attacks

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Check Point Research, the Threat Intelligence arm of Check Point reported that through the USB and connections to WiFi networks, today’s modern cameras are vulnerable to ransomware and malware attacks.

Since modern cameras no longer use film to capture and reproduce images, the International Imaging Industry Association devised a standardised protocol known as Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) to transfer digital images from camera to PC. Initially focused on image transfer, this protocol has evolved to include dozens of different commands that support anything from taking a live picture to upgrading the camera’s firmware.

Check Point Research aimed to access the cameras and exploit vulnerabilities in the protocol to infect the camera. For the research, Check Point used Canon’s EOS 80D DSLR camera which supports both USB and WiFi, and critical vulnerabilities in the PTP were found. Given that the protocol is standardized and embedded in other camera brands, Check Point believes similar vulnerabilities can be found in cameras from other vendors as well.

“Any ‘smart’ device, including the DSLR camera, is susceptible to attacks,” says Eyal Itkin, Security Researcher, Check Point Software Technologies. “Cameras are no longer just connected to the USB, but to the WiFi network and its surrounding environment. This makes them more vulnerable to threats as attackers can inject ransomware into both the camera and PC it is connected to. The photos could end up being held hostage until the user pays the ransom for them to be released.”

Here are some things camera owners can do to avoid being infected:

  1. Make sure your camera is using the latest firmware version, and install a patch if available.
  2. Turn off the camera’s WiFi when not in use.
  3. When using WiFi, prefer using the camera as the WiFi access point, rather than connecting your camera to a public WiFi network.
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