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By NICOLE PERLROTH
The New York Times
January 22, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO -- One afternoon this month, a hacker took a tour of a
dozen conference rooms around the globe via equipment that most every
company has in those rooms; videoconferencing equipment.
With the move of a mouse, he steered a camera around each room,
occasionally zooming in with such precision that he could discern
grooves in the wood and paint flecks on the wall. In one room, he zoomed
out through a window, across a parking lot and into shrubbery some 50
yards away where a small animal could be seen burrowing underneath a
bush. With such equipment, the hacker could have easily eavesdropped on
privileged attorney-client conversations or read trade secrets on a
report lying on the conference room table.
In this case, the hacker was HD Moore, a chief security officer at
Rapid7, a Boston based company that looks for security holes in computer
systems that are used in devices like toaster ovens and Mars landing
equipment. His latest find: videoconferencing equipment is often left
vulnerable to hackers.
Businesses collectively spend billions of dollars each year beefing up
security on their computer systems and employee laptops. They agonize
over the confidential information that employees send to their Gmail and
Dropbox accounts and store on their iPads and smartphones. But rarely do
they give much thought to the ease with which anyone can penetrate a
videoconference room where their most guarded trade secrets are openly
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