Most average tech users know to look out for hacks and hijacks on their computers and phones, but it can be easy to overlook other devices. Almost every complex gadget runs on an operating system of some kind, and can thus be compromised. Fancy digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras are no exception.
DSLR cameras, which straddle the line between consumer and professional tech, cost a pretty penny. For that price, users expect a number of features, including independent wireless access. The ability to upload photos directly from a camera is a double-edged sword, however, as hackers have discerned a way to take control of a camera remotely.
High-end cameras facilitate this hijack through the use of a Wireless File Transmitter (WFT). This server allows users to connect to the Internet directly through the camera without the tedious process of transferring pictures via a USB cable. The downside is that the WFT is obscenely easy to hack.
The WFT server contains all photos and movies that a user has taken, which means that it's quite easy for hackers to copy this media and either keep it for themselves or post it without permission. In addition to raising basic privacy concerns, this could be especially harmful for photos of a sensitive nature (such as nude shots) or copyrighted material (such as magazine content).
However, some DSLRs, Canons in particular, have such simple OSes that hackers can go well beyond the WFT. Canon programs the basic functions for its camera in standard Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) language, which means that any image programmer worth his salt can play havoc with finelytuned camera settings, from exposure and aperture to deletion protocols. [See also: 5 Unsettling Uses of Google Glasses Camera ]
In fact, the hacker who discovered this exploit said that he could likely do even more with a camera if given some time to experiment. Remotely turning the camera on and off or even taking unauthorized photos and video are hardly out of the question. This particular hacker wants only to test the limits of the software, but not every code expert will have such noble goals.
Unlike phones and computers, there does not appear to be an easy preventative measure for this hack. Just remember that hackers can only access the WFT if they share the same Wi-Fi network with you. So think twice before uploading your photos using public Wi-Fi, and make sure that your home Wi-Fi is properly secured.
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