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Britain urges Russia to shut down webcam spying site

A Russian website offering thousands of live feeds peering into bedrooms and offices around the world by accessing poorly secured webcams should be taken down immediately, British officials said on Thursday.



London: A Russian website offering thousands of live feeds peering into bedrooms and offices around the world by accessing poorly secured webcams should be taken down immediately, British officials said on Thursday.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said the site was taking advantage of devices like CCTV cameras and remote-access baby monitors without security protection and with weak passwords.

"I want the Russians to take this down straight away," Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We've known about this for about 24 hours but we've been working out how best to deal with it because we want to take regulatory action," he said.

Graham said that the first reports about the website, which has a domain name in the Australian-administered Cocos Islands, came from Macau and Hong Kong, then Australia and Canada.

Britain is now planning "very prompt action" with the Federal Trade Commission, the US consumer protection agency, "to get this thing closed down", Graham said without giving further details.

Roskomnadzor, the Russian communications agency, declined immediate comment.

In Britain, the ICO said around 500 feeds had been targeted, including a gym in Manchester, a house in Birmingham, and an office in Leicester.

"The website, which is based in Russia, accesses the information by using the default login credentials, which are freely available online, for thousands of cameras," said Simon Rice, ICO group manager for technology.

"The footage is being collected from security cameras used by businesses and members of the public, ranging from CCTV networks used to keep large premises secure, down to built-in cameras on baby monitors," he said.

The site reveals the location and manufacturer of the device whose feeds have been accessed using software and search tools.

Chinese company Foscam was the most commonly listed manufacturer, followed by US firm Linksys and Japanese multinational Panasonic.  

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