Newtown Public Schools Investigates Security Camera Breach


Newtown Public Schools and the Newtown Police Department are investigating a breach into the district's security camera system.

School officials said that the breach, which occurred on March 8 and 9, did not compromise student or staff safety.

Verkada, the company that runs the security system, announced Wednesday an investigation into a breach that affected multiple locations across the country. According to the Associated Press, hackers who wanted to bring attention to the dangers of mass surveillance took credit for the breach that affected hospitals, schools, factories, jails and corporate offices.

Swiss hacker Tillie Kottmann, a member of the group that calls itself APT-69420 Arson Cats, described it in an online chat with The Associated Press as a small collective of primarily queer hackers, not backed by any nations of capital but instead backed by the desire for fun, being gay and a better world."

They were able to again access to a Verdaka super administrator account using valid credentials found online, Kottmann said. Verkada said in a statement that it has since disabled all internal administrator accounts to prevent any unauthorized access.

But for two days, the hackers said, they were able to peer unhindered into live feeds from potentially tens of thousands of cameras, including many that were watching sensitive locations such as hospitals and schools. Kottmann said that included outdoor and indoor cameras at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The school district said they are still investigating exactly which school sites were accessed.

Newtown school officials said Verkada's experts determined that no user passwords were compromised and no archived video files were accessed during the breach. School officials also noted that they do not use features like facial recognition or the audio capabilities available on Verkada products, but only use the cameras to review live and recorded footage. Classrooms are not viewable on the footage.

"We are confident at this time that the breach did not compromise the safety of any of our students or staff," Superintendent Dr. Lorrie Rodrigue wrote in a statement.

Associated Press & NBC Connecticut
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