Korean IT expert arrested after hacking into over 400,000 home cameras

A South Korean man in his thirties was arrested on Tuesday after hacking into over 400,000 home security cameras and attempting to sell the footage, according to police.

The man, identified as Lee, allegedly used his knowledge as a cybersecurity and IT expert to hack into a total of 404,847 cameras in 638 apartment complexes across South Korea between August and November 2021, Yonhap reports.

Upon creating an automated hacking program, police said Lee was able to use 10 wireless routers to hack into apartment complex servers, allowing him to access the cameras of control pads mounted on the walls of 404,847 apartments. Lee then attempted to sell the personal videos and photos, inviting buyers interested in hidden footage to contact him.

It has not been confirmed if Lee was successful in selling the footage to a third party.

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Lee Kyu-bong, president of the Cyber Terror Investigation, stated, "I applied for a warrant for the subject, but it was rejected on the 16th [of December]. We will examine the purpose of the sale more closely to consider reapplication for the arrest warrant."

In the past, Lee has been interviewed by the media regarding managing apartment servers and hacking. Police also revealed Lee’s previous convictions for hacking and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

Lee claimed he committed these crimes to demonstrate the lacking nature of home security systems. However, police revealed that Lee attempted to seal evidence before his arrest.

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The National Police Agency (NPA) first began its investigation a year ago after discovering home footage of a Korean apartment on a foreign website. After the NPA confiscated surveillance footage from 16 apartment complexes, they discovered 213 videos and over 400,000 photos. Intimate or sexually explicit material has also been seized by police.

In response, the police have cooperated with the Korean Internet & Security Agency during their investigation, ensuring the creation of government measures and guidelines to prevent these types of crimes in the future.

Authorities also stressed the importance of cyber security rules, encouraging homeowners to reset Wi-Fi passwords and avoid public wireless networks.

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