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Surveillance cameras turned into zombie computers

Thieves are often the best innovators; this is doubly true when it comes to digital deviants.

Security researchers described a cyberattack meant to overwhelm and temporarily shut down a website that took advantage of 900 closed-circuit television cameras.

But these were not ordinary pieces of surveillance equipment. The CCTV cameras in question were Internet-connected computers — part of the Internet of Things, a traditionally insecure and increasingly popular category of devices. All were accessible using default log-in credentials.

Criminals are able to take advantage of that fact and turn the cameras into botnets, computers that are essentially enslaved by malware and forced to perform a variety of actions. In this case, the cameras helped carry out a denial-of-service attack, flooding a particular website with 20,000 requests per second, which temporarily shut it down.

Researchers didn’t provide any further identifying details, but added that the entire episode would have been avoided if the affected cameras’ owners had just changed the passwords for the devices when they were installed.

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