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updated 5/3/2011 4:19:52 PM ET 2011-05-03T20:19:52

With the right tech skills and a bit of bravery, it's possible to take the law into your own hands.

A security researcher named Kevin Finisterre demonstrated the power of technology -- or perhaps its problems -- by hacking directly into a police cruiser's live video feed.

Finisterre, of the firm Digital Munition, explained the methods of his hack in a report called "Owning a Cop Car." First, he scanned IP addresses used by the U.S. city's police department (the city was not identified), and found that they connected "directly into a Linux device carried in police cruisers," The Register reported.

Finisterre and his team were then able to compromise the FTP (file transfer protocol) and telnet servers -- network communication protocols -- to gain access to the police car's on-board video.

The hack was "nothing short of shocking when it occurred in real time," Finisterre said. "There was an officer in his vehicle heading somewhere in traffic in the middle of the day. He was clearly trying to respond to an incident or go where he was told to go, and I was able to see this in real time."

Although Finisterre's hack was done as a demonstration, it brings to light a problem that, if exploited by someone with malicious intent, could have widespread and damaging ramifications.

Finisterre was not only able to tap into the cop car's live video feed, but he also gained access to the car's digital video recorder (DVR). This access allowed him to upload, download, delete or otherwise manipulate the police video feeds stored by the DVR.

"Allowing unauthorized people to view and alter video stored on cruisers could torpedo court cases that rely on the DVRs for evidence," The Register wrote.

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