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In Ukraine, Thousands of CCTV Cameras Are Connected to Servers in the Russian Federation

For more than 10 years, Ukraine purchased and used thousands of video surveillance cameras with Russian-made software, information from which could be transmitted to the servers of companies associated with the FSB, the  Schemes investigative project found  . These cameras were installed both in cities and at key industrial facilities – for example, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. With the outbreak of a full-scale war, supplies ceased, but the cameras themselves are still in use. Ukrainian officials claim that the transfer of information from them to Russian servers is excluded, but journalists have found out that this is not entirely true.

TRASSIR video surveillance cameras, running on the software of the same name, were installed in Ukraine almost everywhere on city streets and large industrial facilities. For example, in 2017, more than 300 such cameras were purchased by the Poltava City Council. They were also used by the administration of seaports of Ukraine, the authorities of Kharkov, Kherson and Nikopol, and the maritime search and rescue service in Odessa. TRASSIR cameras were also installed on the territory of particularly important enterprises – for example, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant they have been operating since at least 2011.

The cameras themselves are made in China, but the software on them is Russian. Journalists found several companies involved in their supply and estimated that since 2016, more than 10 thousand such cameras have been imported into Ukraine.

At the same time, as journalists found out during an experiment conducted jointly with cybersecurity specialists, when a TRASSIR camera is connected to the Internet, information from it is transmitted to servers located in Russia: the video does not reach the device to which the camera is connected directly, but through Moscow server.

The servers found by journalists belong to two owners – the VK holding and the Digital Network company, which provides services to Yandex and the Russian Ministry of Defense TV channel Zvezda. These companies, journalists note, have connections with Russian intelligence services. Thus, Digital Network previously provided Internet connection services to military unit No. 43753, where the FSB Information Protection and Special Communications Center is located. And Russian journalists and human rights activists have been talking about VK’s close cooperation with the intelligence service and providing it with data from the company’s servers for many years.

“Schemes” write that on February 27, 2022 – three days after the start of the full-scale invasion – the State Special Communications Service of Ukraine blocked millions of Russian IP addresses, including those to which information from cameras was transmitted. However, these servers are accessible via VPN: journalists note that if the cameras are used by ordinary residents of Ukraine, then they, including VPN, can still transfer data to servers in Russia – and not even know it.

Although new deliveries have stopped since February 2022, previously imported cameras continue to work – for example, Schemes found out that this is happening in Poltava. The local city council assured journalists that no information was transferred from them to Russian servers.

Commenting on the massive import of Russian cameras, the State Service for Special Communications stated that they carried out an examination of TRASSIR equipment and software back in 2019 (the department did not specify what this examination showed). Only in May 2022, the State Service for Special Communications warned “security and defense sector authorities” about the company’s cooperation with Russian security services.

The Security Service of Ukraine stated that back in 2020 they contributed to the cancellation of the tender for the purchase of TRASSIR cameras in the Lviv region. It was canceled after a report from the SBU, which said that the cameras made it possible to recognize license plates of cars and carriages, as well as faces, which could be used “to obtain information about the movement of military equipment.”

After the release of the “Schemes” investigation, the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Igor Klimenko ,  said  on the national telethon that the information from the cameras could not get to any servers in other countries. According to him, if we are talking about cameras on the roads, then they only photograph the car and do not transmit any other information. However, the information from the “Schemes” investigation, according to Klimenko, “requires careful research and study,” which will be dealt with by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Source : Mediavektor