If you’re the proud owner of a Wi-Fi-connected digital camera, there’s something you need to be aware of: your camera could be used to spy on you.
At the hacker conference Shmoocon 2013 last month, German security researchers Daniel Mende and Pascal Turbing reported on findings that Internet-connected cameras can easily be exploited and turned into spy cams.
The Lancaster Watch Camera and its little sister, the ladies version, offer some of the earliest proof that spys are, indeed, among us. Ok, maybe not that, but they are a pretty neat piece of 1890′s camera engineering. Read more…
Soviet photo equipment collector Vladislav Kern recently purchased this crazy camera contraption. Upon first glance, it might look like a 8mm motion picture camera that an ordinary tourist might use, but take a closer look (or open it up) and you’ll see that the design is simply a façade. The device is actually a still camera that exposes 35mm film using a smaller lens on the right side of the body!
Ever wonder how the US government managed to capture spy photos with satellites during the Cold War without the help of digital cameras, computers, or wireless transmission? The Atlantic has a fascinating article on the various techniques that were used:
From 1971 to 1986 a total of 20 satellites were launched, each containing 60 miles (100 kilometers) of film and sophisticated cameras that orbited the earth snapping vast, panoramic photographs of the Soviet Union, China and other potential foes. The film was shot back through the earth’s atmosphere in buckets that parachuted over the Pacific Ocean, where C-130 Air Force planes snagged them with grappling hooks.
You can check out all the details of the super secret photography program in this now-declassified report.
Your Briefing on the CIA’s Cold-War Spy Satellite, ‘Big Bird’ [The Atlantic]
Image credit: Creepy Spy Plane by substack
Last Thursday, three Georgian photographers including Irakli Gedenidze, the personal photographer of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, were arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia by taking photos of secret documents. On Saturday, Georgian TV aired a clip of Gedenidze confessing to selling the information to someone he thought was a Russian agent, but claimed to be the victim of blackmail. The Moscow Times suggests that this may simply be an attempt by Georgia to “chill the media”.
The personal photographers of world leaders are sometimes given an extraordinary amount of access — President Obama’s photographer Pete Souza attends and photographs Obama’s meetings, and was present in the Situation Room while the Osama bin Laden raid was unfolding, allowing him to capture his now-iconic photograph.
Like the US Government, the CIA has its own Flickr account, and one of the sets they have features photos of various gadgets used by the agency’s spies over the years. Among the gadgets are a number of spy cameras designed for various purposes and scenarios.
MI5 might have missed a golden opportunity to prevent the 7 July 2005 London bombings back in 2004 when they cropped a photograph of two of the terrorists badly before sending it to the FBI. The photograph was of two of the bombers — Shehzad Tanweer and Mohammad Sidique Khan — and was shot by an undercover agent at a motorway service station. For some reason, MI5 decided to desaturate the photo, crop Khan (the ringleader) out, and make Tanweer look hardly human with blurry facial features and a blob-like profile.
Photojojo is selling this nifty Juice Box Camera, a 35mm camera that looks like a box of apple juice. The shutter is triggered by — you guessed it — the straw!
ThinkGeek is selling a spy-themed T-shirt with a twist — the camera being used by the spy in the design is actually a working camera. The Electric Spy Camera Shirt shoots 640 x 480 images (storing about 150) with a remote you can use while having it tucked away in your pocket. It costs $40 from the ThinkGeek store.
Randomly came across this camera today on Wikipedia in the article on Stasi, the secret police of East Germany. Apparently it’s a “quiet” camera that was able to capture photographs through 1mm holes in walls. Now that’s a pinhole camera.
If you see anyone carrying this thing around, be very alarmed.
Image credits: GDR Stasi Camera by Appaloosa