Privacy advocates have spoken up in recent years on the use of United State’s police departments’ use of drone surveillance. Of these advocates is an activist group that identifies themselves as Distributed Denial of Secrets, or DDoSecrets. Last Friday, DDoSecrets shared over 600 hours, or a 1.8-terabyte succession of aerial surveillance footage on their website. The footage contains helicopter film from both Dallas Police Department (DPD) and Georgia State Patrol (GSP), both of which were storing their footage on unsecured cloud infrastructures. Emma Best, cofounder of DDoSecrets, confirmed with The Dallas Morning News that DDoSecrets was not responsible for hacking the law enforcements’ clouds. Furthermore, Best noted that the group is unaware as to any affiliation between the source and DPD and GSP.
This report comes only months after DPD admitted a former IT employee deleted over 22-terabytes of ongoing case data. To clarify, 22-terabytes equivalent to 8 million police archive photographs, videos, audio, and other data mediums. The former employee received blame for failing to store the data accurately on the cloud, as well as ignoring many prompted warnings that the information was being deleted.
The continuous failure to secure highly sensitive information on city servers brings up the frightening issue of cybersecurity. The constant surveillance of government and corporate data is unsettling in itself, however; the conditions where footage is stored is seldom what citizens are promised.
Dallas Police Department Responds
Senior Corporal Melinda Gutierrez, a Dallas police spokeswoman, confirmed an investigation is in progress, but clarified that none of the information is missing – just breached.
The company DPD contracts with to install digital recording systems on their helicopters, as well as provides cloud-based video storage, is CNC Technologies. The California-based tech company has yet to address what happened earlier this week. City council will be addressing the matter tonight in a closed session regarding legal and other potential security issues.