Video clips taken from thousands of hacked “smart-home” cameras showing victims naked and even having sex are being sold online.
Videos of people naked and having sex inside their homes have been sold on the dark web by hackers who gained access to household security cameras and other “smart” devices in South Korea.
The major security breach was first reported earlier this month by the IT Chosun website, which discovered the intimate images being sold on a hacking forum for 0.1 bitcoin per video, or around $8100.
Many new apartments across South Korea come fitted with internet-connected smart-home features such as wallpad security cameras, lights, connected fridges and washing machines.
A screenshot from the English-language hacking forum published by IT Chosun showed a series of thumbnail preview images of what appears to be a person inside an apartment, and a Protonmail contact address.
“We hacked most of the apartments in South Korea,” the person wrote. “The video was extracted from the smart home device in the apartment. If you are interested, please email …”
According to IT Chosun, dozens of preview images uploaded by the hacker included nude photos of men and women, and even images of the victims having sex.
When the journalist contacted the hacker directly asking if they had really hacked “all the apartment complexes in Korea”, the hacker replied with a list of videos saying, “Choose the apartment complex you want.”
The list reportedly included hundreds of apartment complexes across the country, including in the capital Seoul and the popular Jeju Island holiday destination, suggesting tens of thousands of South Koreans have been unknowingly affected.
South Korean police have launched an investigation and the government says it is reviewing online security laws and strengthening firewall guidelines for so-called “Internet of Things” devices.
“This incident is drawing public attention as wall-pad devices, rather than home computers or mobiles, were hacked, and home privacy was widely breached,” Kim Nam-seung, deputy director of cybersecurity at the Ministry of Science and Technology, told the South China Morning Post.
“It also highlights the importance of users avoiding easy-to-guess passwords, regularly downloading security patch updates and using government-endorsed products with solid security walls.”
South Korea says it will force construction companies to unlink smart-home systems for each apartment to prevent hackers accessing devices for a whole building through a single breach, as appears to have been the case.
Concerns over vulnerabilities of smart homes have been raised in the past. In 2018, two computer science students hired by the local Busan Ilbo newspaper managed to hack into the smart systems of a newly built residential building, gaining access to an internal camera.
The country has previously experienced similar digital crimes. In 2019, police broke up a spying ring that secretly filmed hundreds of guests in hotel rooms using hidden cameras, charging people to watch the live-streamed footage.
Earlier this year, a Human Rights Watch report said South Korea’s position as the world’s most connected country had given rise to an epidemic of “digital sex crime” of men using tiny spy cameras to film women without consent.
“Digital sex crimes have become so common, and so feared, in South Korea that they are affecting the quality of life of all women and girls,” report author Heather Barr told The Times.
“Women and girls told us they avoided using public toilets and felt anxious about hidden cameras in public, and even in their homes. An alarming number of survivors of digital sex crimes said they had considered suicide.”