83 times a day - this is how much an average person is exposed to closed-circuit televisions (CCTV) according to the National Human Rights Commission. From the moment people leave their homes in the morning to the moment they walk back in, every move is recorded and saved.
According to the National Assembly, the number of CCTVs within Korea has massively risen. Compared to 2008 when there were only 8,761 public CCTVs installed for crime prevention in Korea, there were 28,397 cameras installed by June 2010. That is nearly double of the original amount.
The number of CCTVs is growing rapidly throughout the nation mostly to prevent crimes. Although that goal has been realized with more than just a little fanfare, it has also become the ironic root of another kind of crime - CCTV hacking. CCTV hacking is becoming a means to intrude on privacy. In order to reduce the possibility of CCTV hacking, a related legal system needs to be improved, as well as certain guidelines in manipulating CCTVs.
CCTV, to the Rescue!
CCTVs do not only prevent crime, but they also serve as a vital proof of evidence to reveal criminal activities. According to the National Assembly, there were 247 domestic cases settled in 2010 up until June with the help of CCTV coverage.
Thanks to CCTV coverage, the arson of the Namdaemun demolition was caught and brought to justice in February 2008. City CCTVs caught him with a ladder taking a bus to the scene of the crime. CCTVs also played a crucial role in apprehending Kang Ho-soon, the serial killer who had terrorized the country two years ago.
To further protect citizens, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security announced that it would invest 40.8 billion won by 2015 on establishing CCTV Integration Security Centers in 34 cities, districts, and boroughs. CCTV Integration Security Centers are designed to convene the links of CCTVs in order to deal with urgent local cases more swiftly. The centers will be used as crime prevention, traffic and parking control during the day time, and crime prevention-only during the night time. It is said that professional control labor forces will monitor the CCTVs 24 hours a day to block crimes from occurring.
The Enemy Within Reach
Despite their advantages, CCTVs can be exposed to risks - namely hacking. Last year, a middle school student hacked into a CCTV system installed in his apartment complex. It turned out that he hacked to monitor his parents?location so he could secretly play computer games.
Oh Byoung-il, the coordinator of the Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet, explained why CCTV hacking occurs. "As the capability of information gathering has improved, due to CCTV related technical improvements like zoom and rotation, the sheer value of CCTV information has risen as well. It is natural that the danger of hacking increases as the value of information rises," he said.
Hacking is not limited to the CCTVs in the private sector. CCTVs in the public sector are also exposed to hacking even though administrators are denying it. An official at Seoul? City Hall Information System Planning Bureau said, "The CCTVs in Seoul's public sector have absolute no possibility of hacking because such cameras use a private network by a common carrier (a company that transports goods for any person or company)." However, Kim Jong-woo, the general manager of DooJun Net, a company which specializes in building network security systems, denied such a firm attitude. "In order to connect a private network to a camera, a network cable must be connected. In order to do so, a device called HUB should be installed to the network cable and the cable is connected to a network like the wireless Account Point. With this system, one will be able to hack into the CCTVs by using a wireless network," Kim said. This means that CCTVs can be virtually hacked by hackers in different locations.
Photos of naked women captured by CCTVs are being spread on the Internet. This shows the urgency of preventing CCTV hacking. The National Human Rights Commission announced on December 14, 2010 that 70 percent of Korean public baths and jjimjilbangs, Korean steam rooms, are equipped with CCTVs. 30 percent have CCTVs installed in rather private areas such as rooms used for dressing, sleeping and taking a shower. Yoon Seol-ah, the assistant director at the National Human Rights Commission said, "CCTVs are a violation of fundamental human rights. There is no doubt about it. They not only endanger one? portrait right, but also hinder a person from self-determining his or her personal information."
CCTVs to Become Hack-proof
In order to curb CCTV hacking, the legal system regarding the issue needs improvement. The Act on the Protection of Personal Information Maintained by Public Institutions forbids the loss, robbery, leak, falsification, and damage of private information. However, such a regulation is only applied to the CCTVs in the public sector. Comprehensive restrictions on the misuse of CCTVs in the private sector do not exist. Kim explained the nonexistence of any intensive legal infrastructure. "When personal image information gets leaked, the culprit does get punished. In general, however, people do not realize that leaking such data is more vicious than a mere violation of one's portrait rights. The thing is, people just do not care enough," Kim said.
A specific management guideline should also be applied to CCTV operators. There needs to be a legal system that assigns who the CCTV operating manager is, how long video recordings are going to be stored, in what way the recordings are going to be discarded afterwards, and by which process the recording data is going to be provided to the third person. Oh Byoung-il, the coordinator of Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet, especially worries that coverage data of CCTVs is being dealt without caution. "Due to such a weak legal system regarding the management of CCTVs, places like police stations and broadcasting studios can easily get their hands on CCTV coverage. Public institutions also provide images from CCTVs to strangers, in cases like when people want to check car accidents." CCTV related technologies can also be used to protect CCTV recordings from outside hacking. Various encoded technologies such as Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Network and IP Security Virtual Private Network are just those. A Universal Serial Bus port can also be installed to CCTVs.
Acknowledging that encoded technologies might be too expensive for people to purchase, Kim provided a more down-to-earth method to solve the problem with CCTV hacking. He proposed the need of strengthening the insider's security awareness. On top of this, a preventive measure against inner leakage is necessary.
A Stitch in Time Saves Nine
CCTVs are spread throughout our lives like bulls on the loose. It seems indisputable that CCTVs are heroes of our community as their heroic roles are being reported on the news from day to day. However, CCTVs are missing safe foundations. Not only is a legal system missing, but the public seem too indifferent about how their private information is put at risk.
People seem to be ignorant of CCTV hacking because they suppose their personal information will be kept unharmed. However the number of CCTVs is rising rapidly, and with a weak guidance of CCTV installation like this, the risks of hacking will only grow.
The management of CCTVs both in the public and private sectors should be held out thoroughly. To actualize this, the public whose fate is at risk should possess an aggressive stance toward the owners of CCTVs. This is because the owners are the manipulators of CCTVs. In the end, the public is the stitch in time that saves nine.