Entries Tagged "cameras"

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Camera-Transparent Plastic

I just wrote about the coming age of invisible surveillance. Here’s another step along that process.

The material is black in color and cannot be seen through with the naked eye. However, if you point a black and white camera at a sheet of Black-Ops Plastic, it becomes transparent allowing the camera to record whatever is on the other side.

What this means is you can hide a camera inside an object made of this special plastic and no one will know it is there. But the camera is free to record without having its view blocked.

The article doesn’t talk about the technology.

Posted on July 19, 2012 at 6:46 AMView Comments

The Banality of Surveillance Photos

Interesting essay on a trove on surveillance photos from Cold War-era Prague.

Cops, even secret cops, are for the most part ordinary people. Working stiffs concerned with holding down jobs and earning a living. Even those who thought it was important to find enemies recognized the absurdity of their task.

I take photos all the time and these empty blurry frames tell me that they were made intentionally. Shot out of boredom, as little acts of defiance, the secret police wandered the streets of Prague for twenty years taking lousy pictures of people from far away because a job is a job.

Occasionally something interesting happened, like spotting a hot stylish, American made Ford Mustang Sally. However, it must have been an awful job, with dull days that turned into months and years, of killing time between lunch and dinner.

Posted on May 24, 2012 at 6:17 AMView Comments

Dance Moves As an Identifier

A burglar was identified by his dance moves, captured on security cameras:

“The 16-year-old juvenile suspect is known for his ‘swag,’ or signature dance move,” Heyse said, “and [he] does it in the hallways at school.” Presumably, although the report doesn’t make it clear, a classmate or teacher saw the video, recognized the distinctive swag and notified authorities.

But is swag admissible to identify a defendant? Assuming it really is unique or distinctive — and it looks that way from the clip, but I’m no swag expert — I’d say yes.

Posted on April 19, 2012 at 1:03 PMView Comments

Cheating at Casinos with Hidden Cameras

Sleeve cameras aren’t new, but they’re now smaller than ever and the cheaters are getting more sophisticated:

In January, at the newly opened $4-billion Cosmopolitan casino in Las Vegas, a gang called the Cutters cheated at baccarat. Before play began, the dealer offered one member of the group a stack of eight decks of cards for a pre-game cut. The player probably rubbed the stack for good luck, at the same instant riffling some of the corners of the cards underneath with his index finger. A small camera, hidden under his forearm, recorded the order.

After a few hands, the cutter left the floor and entered a bathroom stall, where he most likely passed the camera to a confederate in an adjoining stall. The runner carried the camera to a gaming analyst in a nearby hotel room, where the analyst transferred the video to a computer, watching it in slow motion to determine the order of the cards. Not quite half an hour had passed since the cut. Baccarat play averages less than six cards a minute, so there were still at least 160 cards left to play through. Back at the table, other members of the gang were delaying the action, glancing at their cellphones and waiting for the analyst to send them the card order.

Posted on August 23, 2011 at 5:44 AMView Comments

Organized Crime in Ireland Evolves As Security Increases

The whole article is interesting, but here’s just one bit:

The favoured quick-fix money-making exercise of the average Irish organised crime gang had, for decades, been bank robberies. But a massive investment by banks in branch security has made the traditional armed hold-up raids increasingly difficult.

The presence of CCTV cameras in most banks means any raider would need to be masked to avoid being identified. But security measures at the entrances to many branches, where customers are admitted by staff operating a buzzer, say, means masked men can now not even get through the door.

By the middle of the last decade, cash-in-transit vans delivering money to ATMs were identified by gangs as the weak link in the banks’ operations. This gave rise to a huge number of armed hold-ups on the vans.

However, in recent years the cash-in-transit companies have followed the example of the banks and invested heavily in security technology. Most vans carrying money are now heavily protected by timing devices on safes in the back of the vans, with staff having access to only limited amounts of cash at specific times to facilitate their deliveries.

These security measures have led to a steady decline in robberies on such vans in the past five years.

But having turned from bank robberies to armed hold-ups on cash vans, organised crime gangs have once again changed tack and are now engaging in robberies with hostage-taking.

Known as “tiger raids”, the robberies involve an organised crime gang kidnapping a family member or loved one of a person who has access to cash because of their work in a bank or post office.

Family members are normally taken away at gunpoint, threatened with being shot and or held until the bank or post-office worker goes to their work place, takes a ransom sum and leaves it for the gang at a prearranged drop-off point.

The Garda has worked closely with the main banks in agreeing protocols for such incidents. The main element of that agreement is that banks will not let money leave a branch, no matter how serious the hostage situation, until gardaí have been notified. A reaction operation can then be put in place to try and catch the gang as they collect the ransom.

These protocols have been relatively successful and seem to be deterring tiger raids targeting bank workers.

However, gangs are now increasingly targeting post offices in the belief that security protocols and equipment such as safes are not as robust as in the banking sector.

Most of the tiger raids now occurring are targeting post-office staff, usually in rural areas.

The latest raid occurred just last week, when more than €100,000 was taken from a post office in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, when the post mistress’s adult son was kidnapped at gunpoint and released unharmed when the ransom was paid.

Posted on July 8, 2011 at 6:19 AMView Comments

Status Report on the War on Photography

Worth reading: Morgan Leigh Manning, “Less than Picture Perfect: The Legal Relationship between Photographers’ Rights and Law Enforcement,” Tennessee Law Review, Vol. 78, p. 105, 2010.

Abstract: Threats to national security and public safety, whether real or perceived, result in an atmosphere conducive to the abuse of civil liberties. History is littered with examples: The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, the Palmer Raids during World War I, and McCarthyism in the aftermath of World War II.Unfortunately, the post-9/11 world represents no departure from this age-old trend. Evidence of post-9/11 tension between national security and civil liberties is seen in the heightened regulation of photography; scholars have labeled it the “War on Photography” – a conflict between law enforcement officials and photographers over the right to take pictures in public places. A simple Google search reveals countless incidents of overzealous law enforcement officials detaining or arresting photographers and, in many cases, confiscating their cameras and memory cards, despite the fact that these individuals were in lawful places, at lawful times, partaking in lawful activities.

This article examines the so-called War on Photography and the remedies available to those who have been unlawfully detained, arrested, or have had their property seized for taking pictures in public places or private places open to the public. It discusses recent incidents that highlight the growing infringement of photography rights and the magnitude of the harm that law enforcement officials have inflicted, paying particular attention to the themes these events have in common. It explores the existing legal framework surrounding photography rights and the federal and state remedies available to those whose rights have been violated. It examines the adequacy of each remedy including: (1) declaratory and injunctive relief, (2) Section 1983 and Bivens actions, and (3) state tort remedies. It discusses the obstacles associated with each remedy and the reasons why these obstacles are particularly hard to overcome in the context of photography. It then argues that most, if not all, of the remedies discussed are either inadequate or altogether impractical considering the costs of litigation. Lastly, this article will discuss the reasons why people should be concerned about the War on Photography and possible ways to reverse the erosion of photography rights.

Posted on June 14, 2011 at 1:45 PMView Comments

Man-in-the-Middle Attack Against the MCAT Exam

In Applied Cryptography, I wrote about the “Chess Grandmaster Problem,” a man-in-the-middle attack. Basically, Alice plays chess remotely with two grandmasters. She plays Grandmaster 1 as white and Grandmaster 2 as black. After the standard opening of 1. e4, she just replays the moves from one game to the other, and convinces both of them that she’s a grandmaster in the process.

Detecting these sorts of man-in-the-middle attacks is difficult, and involves things like synchronous clocks, complex cryptographic protocols, or — more practically — proctors. Proctors, of course, can be fooled. Here’s a real-world attempt of this type of attack on the MCAT medical-school admissions test.

Police allege he used a pinhole camera and wireless technology to transmit images of the questions on a computer screen back to his co-conspirator, Ruben, at the University of British Columbia.

Investigators believe Ruben then tricked three other students, who thought they were taking a multiple choice test for a job to be an MCAT tutor, into answering the questions.

The answers were then transmitted back by phone to Rezazadeh-Azar, as he continued on with the test in Victoria, police allege.

And as long as we’re on the topic, we can think about all the ways to hack this system of remote exam proctoring via webcam.

Posted on June 2, 2011 at 7:32 AMView Comments

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.