(ECNS) -- China's quality watchdog on Sunday issued an alert on its website, saying it had detected 32 out of 40 batches of smart cameras at risk for quality and security breaches, which could result in leaked surveillance videos or malicious control of cameras, China Central Television reported.
According to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, those risks lay in the cameras' terminals, information systems, data transmission capabilities, and mobile apps. If used improperly, the cameras might cause privacy leaks and even property losses, it warned.
With access to Wi-Fi and an app, users can remotely monitor a household, make voice calls with other family members, share videos, remotely-adjust monitoring angles and call the police when necessary.
However, an illegal industry engaging in password decrypting, system invasion and privacy infringement through illegal monitoring or live broadcasts of citizens' private information has been growing rapidly, said CCTV.
After paying an online vendor 188 yuan ($28), a CCTV reporter received two password decrypting tools for smart cameras, along with detailed instructions on how to use them. With IP addresses, account names and passwords provided by the seller, the reporter successfully logged into two smart camera accounts and accessed real-time images of the two households without being noticed. Remote operation of the cameras was also allowed.
The report also disclosed that IP addresses were given out free of charge in some QQ instant messaging groups. In one group, which had nearly 2,000 members, a recent password decrypting document containing 200 to 400 IP addresses was sent out on a daily basis. Each of the documents had been downloaded several hundred times.
The findings have been reported to police.
A network security expert said that smart cameras used for city administration and traffic monitoring were also easily hacked because of weak password design.
Xiao Zhonghua, a law professor, said obtaining, selling or providing more than 50 pieces of personal information by illegal means constituted the crime of infringement upon citizens' personal information.