During a routine screening of police body cams, researchers at security firm iPower were shocked to discover that a number of cameras built by Martel Electronics were infected with malware right out of the box.
When iPower connected the cameras to the computers used to check hardware for hidden viruses and spyware, the PCs immediately detected the presence of Win32/Conficker.B!inf, a telltale sign of the Conficker Worm.
When deployed successfully, the Conficker Worm is able to set up vast botnets by replicating itself quickly and infecting multiple machines simultaneously. The worm, which can be transferred onto a PC via a USB drive (or a body cam's USB connection), uses a weakness associated with the autostart function found in certain versions of Windows.
"The problem we see in the field is that business units today are still working with antiquated technologies," iPower wrote in a report of its findings. "Many businesses still run Windows XP and use dated, traditional firewalls to protect their networks."
At its height, it's believed that Conficker was responsible for taking control of nearly 15 million computers running Windows across the world. Microsoft has long since released a security patch designed to combat the malware, but there's no guarantee that police departments around the country have installed all of the necessary updates to protect themselves.
As Ars Technica points out, despite the potential that the worm has had to wreak havoc on unsuspecting victims' lives, the Worm has not been widely used to steal peoples' information as best as authorities can tell. Also it should be noted that iPower has only observed the malware on units it secured for its own testing purposes. Their report does not confirm any instances of Conficker being found on cameras currently being used by police departments.
Still, though, as iPower points out, the presence of the malware on brand new cameras could be cause for concern.
"As the Internet of Things continues to grow into every device we use in our businesses and home lives each day, it becomes even more important that manufactures have stringent security protocols," iPower said. "If products are being produced in offshore locations, what responsibilities lie with the manufacturer to guarantee our safety?"