Love ’em or hate ’em, there is no question that law enforcement officers have a difficult job. They’re rarely called unless something horrible is going down, they’re the butt of universal jokes, and even worse, a few high-profile bad apples have painted all officers with the same corrupt, power-mongering brush. Add to that the fact that their entire reason for wearing a uniform is based on someone trying to do something illegal and even violent, and it’s a wonder people still sign on for this career.
One of the recent innovations that is changing that job for the better is the advent of body cameras. First viewed as a way to “keep tabs” on the officers, the perception surrounding the wearable devices quickly shifted. Now it is the officers who clamor for them as they (along with dash cams in their vehicles) provide much-needed evidence that the officer was following protocol and adhering to his unit’s policies during an altercation. A number of officers have now said they couldn’t do their jobs properly without their bodycams and the footage they provide.
Unfortunately, a Florida-based research firm, iPower, has been working on developing a cloud-based system for storing and using footage from police cams; when they received a shipment of Martel Frontline cameras in order to work on the project, they found the units to be infected with Conficker B, a notorious self-propagating virus that has infected more than 15 million Windows PCs since its discovery in 2008. Connecting a camera to iPower’s computer caused it to try to install the virus, and when the researchers allowed it to go ahead and infect, it immediately reached out to other computers on the network to attempt to spread.
iPower’s attempts to get to the bottom of this led to no acknowledgement from the manufacturer, so the security company has gone public in order to warn law enforcement agencies and local governments of the vulnerability. Given the type of virus, it’s very hard to believe that this is an accidental issue, or at worst a sub-par quality control issue. The legal ramifications of having a compromised bodycam are unfathomable, and could even lead to a complete dismissal of charges in court. Even worse, the worm behavior of Conficker means any officer who connected his camera to his unit’s network could potentially infect not only the entire police station’s network, but any state or federal computer that the local unit’s network communicated with.