Topics

Stolen camers

 

A camera op shooting lives/standups in London for one of the UK’s news broadcasters (ITN) had his camera nicked after a cyclist approached him possibly brandishing a gun.

Someone on facebook suggested that with cameras having regularly firmware updates, surely there could be a way to brick that serial number when the update is uploaded to the camera?  Or is that just not practical?

And another idea I just thought of: When you buy a camera, you register it on line with an email address.  When the cards are offloaded, the offload software extracts the cameras serial number and camera type, sends a little data packet to the camera mfr server that sends an email to the registered address with as much location data as possible (GPS, IP address etc)?

Is any of that practical?

Michael Sanders
London Based DP.

+ 44 (0) 7976 269818




Glenn Lee Dicus
 

I am pretty confident it wasn’t a bicycle. Given what’s happening over there, I’ll bet it was a scooter. Big difference, if you know what I’m talking about.

Glenn Dicus
Hollywood Digital Loader

 

Actually according to the photos posted from the guys dash cam it was a cyclist.

Michael

Michael J Sanders: Director of Photography 
  

Mobile: +44 (0) 7976 269818   
Linkline Diary: +44 (0)20 8426 2200

On 8 Jun 2018, at 02:07, Glenn Lee Dicus <glenndicus@...> wrote:

I am pretty confident it wasn’t a bicycle. Given what’s happening over there, I’ll bet it was a scooter. Big difference, if you know what I’m talking about.

Glenn Dicus
Hollywood Digital Loader

Mick Fanning
 

This is from Jimmy’s Facebook post...


Stolen gear alert London

Hi as mentioned previously in another post I got approached by two masked bike riders, threatened with an alleged firearm and robbed in the middle of shooting a live cross/prerecs at Exmouth Market just around the corner from ITN. Took the camera only.
If anyone sees anything pop up on used websites the gear was...

Sony PDW-700 XDcam Serial 16510... had sony digital drop in radio mic receiver on it and chrosziel mattebox rails
Lens was a Fujinon A-10 lens, serial - 701740

Mick Fanning
ABC Brisbane

Jan Klier
 


On Jun 7, 2018, at 5:59 PM, Michael Sanders <glowstars@...> wrote:

Someone on facebook suggested that with cameras having regularly firmware updates, surely there could be a way to brick that serial number when the update is uploaded to the camera?  Or is that just not practical?

When the cards are offloaded, the offload software extracts the cameras serial number and camera type, sends a little data packet to the camera mfr server that sends an email to the registered address with as much location data as possible (GPS, IP address etc)?

Is any of that practical?

Technically both are feasible. But would they prevent such incidents or help recover stolen items? Probably to easy to circumvent as criminals are getting more tech savvy and the rewards remain big.

An effective system has be hard to circumvent, have a reliable communication method, and an ecosystem on the other end. Apple’s Where Is My iPhone is probably the best and most functional example at scale. But it’s a big step from where most camera systems are today.

There is always other software to offload cameras. Many can even be copied by standard file copy. Firmware updates can be forgone and still keep the camera viable.

A better technical solution would be to require the camera to be unlocked via a pass code or other digital key. And those keys must expire automatically within a reasonably time window and be renewed from the manufacturer’s website via the serial number where such renewal can be blocked by serial number for reported units. Of course that’s a hassle on set, so maybe the unlock remains good for 24 hours, so you unlock it via a 6 digit code at the beginning of the day. The passcode would expire after 30 days before you have to obtain a new one. There would have to be a way to turn this feature off in case you were working in a very remote location without reliable Internet access. To keep passcode short and easy to enter, it could be a system that uses one of the 2-factor dongles. In fact the Google Authenticator app or variation of it could be used where short matching codes are provided via an app on your phone, as long as that app verifies status with the manufacturer database, which would be easy enough. In newer cameras this could be automated via Bluetooth, NFC, or some other protocol to communicate with your phone to avoid code entry.

Anyway, in any of these schemes, unless the camera gets unlocked in a way that goes all the way back to the master database, it turns into a brick in a way that is not circumventable even by tech savvy people and the proper information from the manufacturer.

While aiding recovery is nice, the best approach is to limit the value of the cameras to thieves to redirect them to other targets as it’s not worthwhile anymore. Also during the recovery you’re less likely to catch the brazen thief but someone down the chain who bought it knowingly or unknowingly. 

That being said, with lenses sometimes being as valuable as the body as well as other accessories, not sure what to do about that part. It may come down to security guards at the end of the day. And ultimately the best protection against crime is a strong economy with lots of opportunity for everyone. 

Jan Klier
DP NYC


Bryan Manternach
 

This is practical if the manufacturer builds features like this in.  Kind of like "Find my mac" .  Especially now that many cameras are coming with network and even WiFi connectivity, it's literally just a software feature add.

Features like this could also be used for accountability if you had some sort of on-line event logging showing camera events, or even sending meta data off-camera for collecting usage statistics, or verifying use, etc.  Cameras could digitally "sign" media, so you knew without a doubt if a camera was used to shoot footage. 

I'm hoping eventually blockchain will be able to be used to prove without a shadow of a doubt that a piece of video is original, not tampered with or modified, so you could prove a video was real without a shadow of a doubt.

-Bryan


On 6/7/18 2:59 PM, Michael Sanders wrote:
Is any of that practical?

Michael Sanders
London Based DP.



-- 
Bryan Manternach, CTS
email: smashwolf@...
Home: 831-338-3504 / Mobile: 408-209-3099

brian kelly
 

On 8 Jun 2018, at 07:47, Mick Fanning <cameraperson@...> wrote:

This is from Jimmy’s Facebook post...


Stolen gear alert London

Hi as mentioned previously in another post I got approached by two masked bike riders, threatened with an alleged firearm and robbed in the middle of shooting a live cross/prerecs at Exmouth Market just around the corner from ITN. Took the camera only.
If anyone sees anything pop up on used websites the gear was...

Sony PDW-700 XDcam Serial 16510... had sony digital drop in radio mic receiver on it and chrosziel mattebox rails
Lens was a Fujinon A-10 lens, serial - 701740

Mick Fanning
ABC Brisbane

Sean McBride
 

Hidden RFID chips on the camera, lens, tripod (sachtler's are bucks deluxe!)ect.  Let them be tracked in real time.


On Fri, Jun 8, 2018 at 8:10 AM Bryan Manternach <smashwolf@...> wrote:

This is practical if the manufacturer builds features like this in.  Kind of like "Find my mac" .  Especially now that many cameras are coming with network and even WiFi connectivity, it's literally just a software feature add.

Features like this could also be used for accountability if you had some sort of on-line event logging showing camera events, or even sending meta data off-camera for collecting usage statistics, or verifying use, etc.  Cameras could digitally "sign" media, so you knew without a doubt if a camera was used to shoot footage. 

I'm hoping eventually blockchain will be able to be used to prove without a shadow of a doubt that a piece of video is original, not tampered with or modified, so you could prove a video was real without a shadow of a doubt.

-Bryan


On 6/7/18 2:59 PM, Michael Sanders wrote:
Is any of that practical?

Michael Sanders
London Based DP.



-- 
Bryan Manternach, CTS
email: smashwolf@...
Home: 831-338-3504 / Mobile: 408-209-3099



--

c:     416.841.0599
w:    www.seanmcbride.tv  
rep:  Someplace Nice 

 

Isnt the distant between an rfid chip and the scanner a bit of an issue? There is talk of putting them in all airline baggage tags but the scanner can be very close.

Michael

Michael J Sanders: Director of Photography 
  

Mobile: +44 (0) 7976 269818   
Linkline Diary: +44 (0)20 8426 2200

On 8 Jun 2018, at 14:21, Sean McBride <seanmcbr@...> wrote:

Hidden RFID chips on the camera, lens, tripod (sachtler's are bucks deluxe!)ect.  Let them be tracked in real time.

Rick Gerard
 

I have Marco Polo trackers for my drones. I have 3 tags, one for the Alta, one for the Phantom, and one for the MavicPro. I never fly without them. 

No wifi required, no GPS and up to a 2 mile range. The batteries last for a couple of days. I was just in LA for meetings and turned on the trackers and put them in my 3 biggest cases while the car was parked just in case. 

Something like this built into a camera would be great.

I have ordered RFID chips and a scanner for equipment inventory. They should be delivered in July but RFID requires a proximity scanner to work.

Personally I think a brick the camera option like you get with a Mac or an iPhone would be the biggest deterrent to camera or electronic lens theft. iPhone thefts are way down, you can’t pawn one, and if a phone or your Mac computer gets stolen the first time it is connected to the internet it becomes a brick that is basically worthless to almost anyone.

The other option would be to tie the operation of a camera to a smart device like a phone. I never fly my Alta without connecting it to the Alta App (freefly) to check all systems. It would be a pretty simple thing to use bluetooth or wifi to the a phone to unlock a camera when it is powered up. Just password protecting devices makes them a lot less valuable to a thief. 

You’re never going to stop the stupid or the highly motivated criminals, but it is not that hard to make valuable electronics a lot less valuable.


Rick Gerard
DP/VFX Supervisor
MovI Pro / ALTA / Licensed Commercial Pilot Fixed Wing and UAV
Northern CA
916.472.8085

Steve Oakley
 

please consider the frightening possibilities of how this could go really wrong. Starting with governments hostile to journalists, likewise various other groups who want power. If you are shooting news or  a doc in a hostile area, sure you want your GPS loc passed thru the internet ? especially if the angry guys are watching for journalists ? It could also be used to track you and what you may be shooting. Thats not a far stretch. 

even shooting drama, maybe the government doesn’t like your script so it shuts your camera off, or blocks it from getting a serial to operate. 

30 day serials ? how could that go wrong… maybe yearly. then what about used sales ? what happens if a company goes away ? or simply decided that 7-10 years is all you get from your camera before “ending support of your camera” ?

Even your everyday hacker could take your camera hostage like they do computers with malware.

some still cameras do have a digital signature already. not that it means anything really. its all too easy to manipulate now at the prosumer level.

I’ve had armed security and its my first choice for working in potentially dangerous or hostile areas. when thing go wrong, your camera is low on the list of things you worry about.

Steve Oakley
DP / Editor / Colorist / VFX Artist
Madison & Milwaukee WI
920 544 2230

 

On Jun 7, 2018, at 5:13 PM, Bryan Manternach <smashwolf@...> wrote:

This is practical if the manufacturer builds features like this in.  Kind of like "Find my mac" .  Especially now that many cameras are coming with network and even WiFi connectivity, it's literally just a software feature add.

Features like this could also be used for accountability if you had some sort of on-line event logging showing camera events, or even sending meta data off-camera for collecting usage statistics, or verifying use, etc.  Cameras could digitally "sign" media, so you knew without a doubt if a camera was used to shoot footage. 

I'm hoping eventually blockchain will be able to be used to prove without a shadow of a doubt that a piece of video is original, not tampered with or modified, so you could prove a video was real without a shadow of a doubt.

-Bryan


On 6/7/18 2:59 PM, Michael Sanders wrote:
Is any of that practical?

Michael Sanders
London Based DP.

Jan Klier
 


On Jun 8, 2018, at 12:22 PM, Steve Oakley <steveo@...> wrote:

Please consider the frightening possibilities of how this could go really wrong. 

Hence the saying that ‘Security and Freedom are inversely proportional’ - you can’t have them both in most scenarios.

Any such feature would have to be able to be turned off, so you can choose based on the circumstances.

Jan Klier
DP NYC

 

With a PIN code to turn it off maybe?

Michael

Michael J Sanders: Director of Photography 
  

Mobile: +44 (0) 7976 269818   
Linkline Diary: +44 (0)20 8426 2200

On 8 Jun 2018, at 17:33, Jan Klier <jan@...> wrote:

Any such feature would have to be able to be turned off, so you can choose based on the circumstances.

Bryan Manternach
 

On 6/8/18 9:39 AM, Michael Sanders wrote:
With a PIN code to turn it off maybe?
That would be reasonable.  You would still need to be able to have a
degree of trust that the camera vendor gave a rats ass about your
privacy and security, and that "off" really means off.

I really think "permissioned blockchain" is the answer , because then
not even a government could tamper or meddle with it, and you could
easily "shred" a blockchain and make it unrecoverable with the press of
a button if you didn't want your footage in the wrong hands on a stolen
camera or compromised data store.

What would be an interesting concept is a method for a 3rd party vendor
of your choosing to provide hardware or software or both for these
features that "hook" into a standard camera somehow.  Like "blockchain
module"  Then you would need multiple vendor solutions to secure the
data and/or camera, but at least if one vendor's trust was in question
you could switch to another, or if your company was big enough, invest
in your own proprietary security method(s) and control the permissions
and contracts in your own blockchains to your desires.   .  I could
totally see large media corporations developing their own security and
encryption if they were given a platform that would allow that.  This
could be especially achievable using a blockchain implementation,
because then it's just a matter of who controls the blockchain
policies/contracts in use on the camera, and not even a government could
meddle in that.

-Bryan

Glenn Lee Dicus
 

Ok, I’ll play.

An external thumbkey which, once inserted, resets an internal clock that “disables” the camera and activates a ping task encapsulating gps coordinates and serial number when the clock reads zero. This clock could run for a day, week, month or customer defined length of time corresponding to the length of any particular project or rental period. Thus, mitigating the detrimental effects of a misplaced or intentionally placed thumbkey.

Glenn Lee Dicus
Hollywood Digital Loader.

Bob Kertesz
 


My insurance agent tells me the majority of stolen production gear in the U.S. is very quickly moved to far away places like South America or Africa or the Middle East. It rarely stays local or even in country. No reason to think gear stolen elsewhere is not treated the same way. Good luck in recovering that camera from, say, Guyana or Lebanon or Uganda, even if you manage to locate it with GPS or wi-fi or magic incantations.

Any kind of 'lockout' in a camera will, inevitably, go wrong just at the precise moment you need it to shoot that interview with that world leader. Inevitably. Thumb drives used as keys will stop working (I've had a lot of issues with thumb drives dying lately, and I'm not alone - once they became commodity items, they turned into unreliable crap), and remote enabling/shutdown through wi-fi or 4G connections can be hacked by unfriendlies or can just plain go wrong.

I can't imagine ANY manufacturer opening themselves up to the liability that lockout firmware on their camera will go wrong and the camera won't operate in the hands of the proper owner. They would be insane to do anything like that, which is precisely what their lawyers will tell them. Aside from which, the feature would imply the necessity for 24/7 worldwide emergency service to unlock it if things did go wrong, and which manufacturer is going to pay to have that become a reality?

RFID tags, as someone pointed out, need reader proximity to work. And even then, those can be made non-functional quite easily with a hand tool stolen from any retailer using the tech, or just buying the tool online.

As for blockchain verification of original, unmodified footage - not a bad idea at all. But there already exist cheap transfer software packages (and simple utilities) that generate checksums using fast but crude CRC32, better but slower MD5, or the pretty much unbreakable and painfully slow SHA-512 algorithms that make comparisons to original footage integrity relatively straightforward if people wanted to use them. That's something that could be built into cameras and external recorders as a small non-volatile compressed and encrypted database if enough people demanded them. Just keep in mind that a single bit out of millions or billions flipping from a zero to a one in a video file due to sunspots, or magnetism, or a failing drive, and the footage will look modified to any software analyzing it.

There is pretty much no way I can think of to disable or even physically track (aside from checking serial numbers) stolen lenses, often the most expensive components of any kit.

So the practical reality is: Be insured, be very watchful, hire experienced security if you need that, be wary. The people stealing this stuff are often clever and devious, and we all need to be as well.

-Bob

Bob Kertesz
BlueScreen LLC
Hollywood, California

DIT, Video Controller, and live compositor extraordinaire.

High quality images for more than four decades - whether you've wanted them or not.©

* * * * * * * * * *


Glenn Lee Dicus
 

And always include the option to not use the feature at all, disabled with the thumbkey, of course.

Glenn Lee Dicus
Hollywood Digital Loader

Mitch Gross
 

On Jun 8, 2018, at 4:10 PM, Bob Kertesz <bob@...> wrote:

I can't imagine ANY manufacturer opening themselves up to the liability that lockout firmware on their camera will go wrong and the camera won't operate in the hands of the proper owner.

Actually, if done properly then it can be made 100% reliable and easy to administer and use with no risk. 

And it just so happens, coming soon to VariCam. 


Mitch Gross
Cinema Product Manager 
Panasonic Systems Solutions Company of North America
New York


 

Fantastic to hear Mitch!

Looks like the gauntlet has been well and truly thrown down :-)

I suspect no one thinks this will totally stop crime, but if it abates it in any way thats got to be a good thing.  

Michael


Michael Sanders
London Based DP.

+ 44 (0) 7976 269818




On 9 Jun 2018, at 09:38, Mitch Gross <mitchgrosscml@...> wrote:

Actually, if done properly then it can be made 100% reliable and easy to administer and use with no risk. 

And it just so happens, coming soon to VariCam. 

Bob Kertesz
 

I don't think anything can be made 100% reliable 100% of the time with no risk. Too many variables, including the end users.

But it's certainly interesting to try.

-Bob

Bob Kertesz
BlueScreen LLC
Hollywood, California

DIT, Video Controller, and live compositor extraordinaire.

High quality images for more than four decades - whether you've wanted them or not.©

* * * * * * * * * *

On 6/9/2018 1:38 AM, Mitch Gross wrote:
On Jun 8, 2018, at 4:10 PM, Bob Kertesz <bob@...> wrote:

I can't imagine ANY manufacturer opening themselves up to the liability that lockout firmware on their camera will go wrong and the camera won't operate in the hands of the proper owner.

Actually, if done properly then it can be made 100% reliable and easy to administer and use with no risk. 

And it just so happens, coming soon to VariCam. 


Mitch Gross
Cinema Product Manager 
Panasonic Systems Solutions Company of North America
New York