"Any 'smart' device, including a digital SLR camera, is vulnerable to attacks from the Internet," said Eyal Itkin, security researcher at Check Point Software Technologies. "In addition to the USB port, cameras are also connected to the WLAN network and the associated IT environment. This makes them much more vulnerable to threats, as attackers can inject ransomware directly into the camera via WLAN as well as first into the computer and then via USB into the device it is connected to. The goal is to keep the photos encrypted as 'hostages' until the owner has paid the ransom for their release."
With the advent of digital cameras, the International Imaging Industry Association developed a standardized protocol known as Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) to transfer digital images from the camera to a computer. Since then, the protocol has evolved to include dozens of different commands and functions, from capturing a live image to updating the device's firmware.
The security researchers now tried to access the cameras via PTP and exploit protocol vulnerabilities to infect the camera. They used the Canon EOS 80D DSLR, which supports both USB and WLAN. In fact, the investigation found critical vulnerabilities, and since all major camera brands embed PTP in their products, Check Point is confident that similar vulnerabilities exist in cameras from other manufacturers.