Hack of security company exposes footage from 150,000 connected cameras

Verkada said they notified their customers about the hack, and that their security teams are working with an external security firm to investigate it

CBS News received a 5 gigabyte archive containing video and images from the hack


Video and AI security company Verkada was breached, giving hackers access to over 150,000 internet-connected security cameras that were being used inside schools, jail cells, hospital ICUs, and major companies like Tesla, Nissan, Equifax, Cloudflare and others. The hack was conducted by a loose-knit anti-corporate hactivist group called APT-69420, based in Switzerland. According to the group's representative Till Kottmann, they accessed Verkada's systems on March 8 and the hack lasted for 36 hours.

He described Verkada, a Silicon Valley-based startup, as a "fully-centralized platform" which made it easy for his team to access and download footage from thousands of security cameras. The leaked footage appears to include major companies and institutions, but not private homes.

The video and images purport to capture a range of activities that might be sensitive, like security video from the Tesla car manufacturing line and a screenshot from inside the security firm Cloudflare. Some of the material is highly personal, including video of patients in hospital intensive care units and prisoners inside the Madison County Jail in Huntsville, Alabama.

Kottman described the security on Verkada systems as "nonexistent and irresponsible," and said his group targeted the company to demonstrate how easy it is to access internet-connected cameras placed in highly sensitive locations.

Verkada said they notified their customers about the hack, and that their security teams are working with an external security firm to investigate it.

Verkada told CBS News, "We have disabled all internal administrator accounts to prevent any unauthorized access. Our internal security team and external security firm are investigating the scale and scope of this issue, and we have notified law enforcement."

The FBI did not comment. CBS News has reached out to Tesla and Equifax but they were unavailable for comment at the time this story was published.

Kottmann provided CBS News with a 5 gigabyte archive containing video and images from the hack, and described the attack as "non-technical" and not difficult to pull off.

Kottmann said that her group discovered a Verkada administrator username and password stored on an unencrypted subdomain.

The company, she said, exposed an internal development system to the internet, which contained hard coded credentials for a system account which she said gave them full control over their system with "super admin" rights.

"We do scans for very broad vectors looking for vulnerabilities. This one was easy. We simply used their web app the way any user would, except we had the ability to switch to any user account we desired. We did not access any server. We simply logged into their web UI with a highly privileged user [account]," Kottmann said.

Kottmann said her group of hackers is not motivated by money or sponsored by any country or organization. "APT-69420 is not backed by any nations or corporations, backed by nothing but being gay, fun and anarchy," she said.

When asked if she feared repercussions, Kottman replied, "Maybe I should be a little more paranoid, but at the same time what would it change? I'm just going to be as targeted as I am right now."

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