Like a virus, a computer worm is capable of attacking an operating system along with all of its comprised code. Unlike a virus, however, a worm can make copies of itself without the need for sentient assistance. Suffice it to say, with the right target in mind, these programs can be incredibly dangerous — especially if that target is an agency that is supposed to be preventing crime.
And that seems to be just what has happened, according to research firm iPower Technologies, which has concluded that one of the world’s most pervasive computer worms has been discovered in its police body cameras. The cameras were sent to the firm with the intent of developing a cloud-based video storage system for government agencies as well as police departments, according to a blog post.
The post suggests that a number of police cameras, crafted by Martel Electronics, had been infected with Win32/Conficker.B!inf, a well known worm that took root back in late 2008 to the dismay of over 15 million Windows PCs. iPower characterizes the worm as the worst kind of bloatware.
After connecting one of the cams to a computer in its lab, iPower techs discovered that it was prompting a cautionary notification from the antivirus software installed on the PC. Naturally, the researchers wanted to find out more, and allowed the worm penetrate the computer, and traced its further attempts to infect corresponding PCs sharing the same network.
“iPower initiated a call and multiple emails to the camera manufacturer, Martel, on November 11, 2015,” wrote the company in its blog post. “Martel staff has yet to provide iPower with an official acknowledgement of the security vulnerability. iPower President, Jarrett Pavao, decided to take the story public due to the huge security implications of these cameras being shipped to government agencies and police departments all over the country.”
Unfortunately, this means that — worst case scenario — if used as evidence in a judicial court, an attorney could opt to scrap the footage obtained from one of these police body cameras altogether, due to the nature of the infection, Ars Technica reports. Likewise, devices infected by a worm such as Conficker B. can cause network slowdowns, especially considering many police departments are operating on antiquated technologies, often insufficient to support basic security requirements.