Poor se­cu­rity con­trols led to cam­era breach at Nova Sco­tia school, re­port finds

The News (New Glasgow) - - AT­LANTIC -

Inad­e­quate pass­words and in­suf­fi­cient tech­ni­cal con­trols led to video sur­veil­lance im­ages of Cape Bre­ton school­child­ren be­ing live streamed on the in­ter­net, Nova Sco­tia’s in­for­ma­tion and pri­vacy com­mis­sioner says.

Cather­ine Tully’s re­port says the video sys­tem at the Rankin School of the Nar­rows in Iona was breached when a link to the live feed from one school cam­era was picked up and dis­trib­uted by a Rus­sian web­site that spe­cial­izes in link­ing non-se­cured video sur­veil­lance cam­eras.

Tully says an un­se­cured tech­ni­cal vul­ner­a­bil­ity en­abled view­ers to ac­cess the school’s other two cam­eras as well.

The re­port says the Cape Bre­ton-Vic­to­ria Re­gional School Board changed the pass­words on its cam­eras once it learned of the breach, how­ever Tully found the board still hasn’t im­ple­mented ad­e­quate tech­ni­cal or ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trols to re­duce the risk of fu­ture breaches.

“If video sur­veil­lance is used, it must be prop­erly se­cured,” Tully said in a news re­lease. “When video sur­veil­lance im­ages from the Rankin school were streamed on the in­ter­net for all to see, this was a vi­o­la­tion of Nova Sco­tia’s pri­vacy laws. Video sur­veil­lance im­ages of school­child­ren stream­ing un­se­cured to the in­ter­net created a risk to stu­dent safety.”

Tully be­gan her in­ves­ti­ga­tion in May af­ter it was re­vealed that de­tailed im­ages of pupils at the school, aged five to 18, were ap­pear­ing on the web­site. Her re­port, re­leased Thurs­day, rec­om­mends sev­eral changes to the board’s tech­ni­cal se­cu­rity prac­tices.

They in­clude the de­vel­op­ment of a pri­vacy breach pol­icy, the se­cur­ing of cam­eras be­hind a fire­wall, the re­place­ment of two ex­te­rior cam­eras, and the im­me­di­ate dis­abling of a video sur­veil­lance cam­era out­side the boys’ wash­room at the school.

The re­port also con­sid­ers the school board’s ra­tio­nale for us­ing video sur­veil­lance. Tully found that the board hadn’t es­tab­lished whether its sys­tem is legally au­tho­rized un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion and Pro­tec­tion of Pri­vacy Act. Tully said all school boards in the prov­ince had im­ple­mented video sur­veil­lance with­out con­duct­ing a pri­vacy im­pact as­sess­ment to en­sure com­pli­ance with the law.

She notes boards have used sur­veil­lance tools as the tech­nol­ogy has be­come cheaper and eas­ier to use in or­der to “en­sure the safety of chil­dren.”

Tully said safety is of “fun­da­men­tal im­por­tance,” but video sur­veil­lance is highly in­va­sive.

“It is es­sen­tial that school boards con­duct a thor­ough pri­vacy im­pact as­sess­ment of their video sur­veil­lance sys­tems in or­der to find the proper bal­ance be­tween en­sur­ing the safety of chil­dren while re­spect­ing their pri­vacy,” she said.

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