Facial Recognition Data Collected by US Customs Agency Hacked

11 June, 2019, 09:32 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Data collected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection has fallen foul to a breach

The US Customs and Border Protection service said Monday that images of travelers collected at points of entry into the US were stolen in a malicious cyber attack.

The federal agency revealed that license plate images were also exposed in a hack that compromised a subcontractor's computer network.

"The best way to avoid breaches of sensitive personal data is not to collect and retain such data in the first place", ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Neema Singh Guliani said in a statement on Monday.

"Initial information indicates that the subcontractor violated mandatory security and privacy protocols outlined in their contract", further notes CBP. A Government spokesperson said it was aware of the attack, which was a matter for CBP.

The CBP did not say if photos of British tourists had been involved in the data breach, which involved fewer than 100,000 people.

A CBP statement said that the agency learned of the breach on May 31 and that none of the image data had been identified "on the Dark Web or Internet".

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"CBP will unwaveringly work with all partners to determine the extent of the breach and the appropriate response", the statement said, adding that no CBP systems were compromised. According to The Register, the uploaded database included files of locations, zip codes and images that appeared to be license plate captures.

The Washington Post reported that the subcontractor might have been Perceptics, a Tennessee-based imaging company that provides vehicle license plate readers to the us government, including at border checkpoints.

Perceptics, based in Farragut, Tennessee, has championed its technology as a key part of keeping borders secure.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he meant to hold hearings next month on the Homeland Security Department's use of biometric information.

The US Customs and Border Patrol today said hackers broke into one of its bungling technology subcontractors - and made off with images of people and their vehicle license plates as they passed through America's land border.

In an opinion piece ironically posted at the Washington Post just hours before the news story broke-titled "Don't smile for surveillance: Why airport face scans are a privacy trap"- columnist Geoffrey A. Fowler warned that even as USA consumers become more accustomed to facial recognition technology-such as using your face to unlock an iPhone or other device-what happens when a government agency or airline captures such an image at the airport is something entirely different. "Unfortunately, this is the second major privacy breach at DHS this year", Thompson said, referring to a separate breach in which more than 2 million USA disaster survivors had their information revealed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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