U.S. Customs and Border Protection says cyber-attack exposed photos of travelers and license plates

Violation of a U.S. subcontractor for customs and border protection has renewed concerns about facial recognition technology

Customs and Border Protection said Monday that photographs of voyagers and tags gathered at a solitary U.S. fringe point have been uncovered in a malevolent cyber-attack in what the main congressman called a “noteworthy security break.”

The government organization did not name the subcontractor whose PC system was hacked, yet the declaration pursued news that a Tennessee-based organization that bills itself as the sole supplier of stationary tag per users at U.S. fringes had been undermined.

A customs spokesperson said original reports stated that there were fewer than 100,000 individuals engaged in the pictures; pictures were taken of tourists in cars entering and leaving the United States at a single land-border port of entry over one and a half months.

Automated license plate readers are used to “detect, identify, apprehend and remove persons illegally entering the U.S. at and between ports of entry or otherwise infringing U.S. law,” the Department of Homeland Security stated in a privacy document December 2017. Recorded license plates are verified against DHS databases in real time that is accessed by 13 federal agencies.

The US government retains extensive private information databases for tourists, including passport and visa photos, and airlines have also increasingly used facial recognition technology to share biometric data with federal agencies that store sensitive information. Since Donald Trump’s 2017 executive order accelerating the implementation of this monitoring, CBP has expanding its facial scanning systems to global airports across the nation.

The U.K. Computer security website The Register indicated that the liable hacker alerted the business to the violation at the end of May. A business spokesperson did not immediately react to an email requesting comment from The Associated Press.

CBP said that none of the information on the internet or the Dark Web had surfaced. The Register said the hacker supplied a list of documents exfiltrated from the corporate network of Perceptics and said the hack had been confirmed by a corporate spokesman. “Initial data suggests that the subcontractor breached compulsory protocols of safety and privacy described in their agreement,” CBP said in a declaration.

In March, the inspector general of the Homeland Security Department announced that another of its branches, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, had incorrectly published private data from 2,3 million victims of disastrous 2017 hurricanes and wildfires to a contractor, possibly exposing those impacted to fraud and theft of identity.

Perceptics, of Farragut, Tennessee, bills itself as the sole supplier of license-plate readers “for passenger vehicle main inspection routes at all land border ports of entry in the United States, Canada and at the most critical routes in Mexico.” It claims it has secured “thousands of border inspection points” and says its products automate over 200 million vehicle inspections annually.

In electronic toll collection and vehicle tracking, perceptics technology is also used.


Louis Bruno

louis have been writing about tech since 2014 after spending 10 years in a computer research lab studying and improving the future of computers. He watches Netflix sci-fi with his pet, Casey enjoying snacks.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection says cyber-attack exposed photos of travelers and license plates, Tech chums