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Government Idle

Moscow Police Watch Pre-Recorded Scenes On Surveillance Cams 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-always-feel-like-nobody-is-watching-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes "During several months of 2009, Moscow police looked at fake pictures displayed on their monitors instead of what was supposed to be video from the city surveillance cams. The subcontractor providing the cams was paid on the basis of 'the number of working cams,' so he delivered pre-cooked pictures stored on his servers. The camera company CEO has been arrested."

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Moscow Police Watch Pre-Recorded Scenes On Surveillance Cams

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Lenny's afro and Homer's Hustle were out of place.

  • Security flaw (Score:4, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @01:51PM (#30753260)

    It took them five months to uncover this. If the contractor hadn't been greedy, it probably would have gone on a lot longer. It's no surprise though -- most camera feeds aren't encrypted/authenticated in any way. Nonetheless, the justice system and juries will rely on them as irrefutable evidence of a crime. And anyone who claims they were photoshopped into the scene will be laughed out of the courtroom.

    The industrial espionage possibilities are quite lucrative.

    • Pah! I saw Tom Baker Dr. Who episode years ago, where he reprograms a security camera to make it look like he's in the hallway, when really the Doctor is about to...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Suki I (1546431)

        Pah! I saw Tom Baker Dr. Who episode years ago, where he reprograms a security camera to make it look like he's in the hallway, when really the Doctor is about to...

        I knew Oceans 11 with George Clooney had to get that idea from someplace!

        • by tobiasly (524456)

          Pah! I saw Tom Baker Dr. Who episode years ago, where he reprograms a security camera to make it look like he's in the hallway, when really the Doctor is about to...

          I knew Oceans 11 with George Clooney had to get that idea from someplace!

          Dr. Who? Ocean's 11?! Don't you whippersnappers know that the idea originally came from Motley Crue [youtube.com]?

          • by Suki I (1546431)

            Pah! I saw Tom Baker Dr. Who episode years ago, where he reprograms a security camera to make it look like he's in the hallway, when really the Doctor is about to...

            I knew Oceans 11 with George Clooney had to get that idea from someplace!

            Dr. Who? Ocean's 11?! Don't you whippersnappers know that the idea originally came from Motley Crue [youtube.com]?

            Yea, right. Your "evidence" is just a music video.

      • by Abreu (173023)

        Tom Baker? Who's that?

        For us in the other side of the Atlantic, the only Doctors are Christopher Eccleson and David Tennant

        • Re:Security flaw (Score:4, Informative)

          by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:59PM (#30754234)

          Tom Baker? Who's that?

          For us in the other side of the Atlantic, the only Doctors are Christopher Eccleson and David Tennant

          How does someone living in Europe not know Tom Baker as Dr. Who? I mean good grief, the show was made in the UK. /s
          Ok, so I assume you are someone in the U.S. who only came out from under a rock in the last 5 years. I don't know anyone who watches the Christopher Eccleson/David Tennant "Dr. Who" episodes who isn't a big Tom Baker fan (besides myself, and even I am well aware of who he is).

          • Tom Baker, so far as I'm concerned, IS Doctor Who. The new shows are okay, but Tom was the Doctor when I was growing up, and watching the others is kind of like watching Steve Martin play Inspector Closeau.

            • by denzacar (181829)

              Funny you should mention Steve Martin, as he is a Doctor Who fan.
              He even wrote Jon Pertwee into L.A. Story as an "alien" that fiddles with the signs along the road, making them communicate with people.
              Sadly, Pertwee was too ill to film that scene, so it was left out.

              And yes, Tom Baker IS the Doctor.

          • How does someone living in Europe not know Tom Baker as Dr. Who? I mean good grief, the show was made in the UK. /s

            How does someone living in Europe not know Ove Sprogø as Egon Olsen? I mean that movie series was made in Denmark.

            • I don't know, are they familiar with the newer actors who played the role? If not, perhaps they never heard of the show. The person I was replying to was familiar with the show in later incarnations (also made in the UK).
          • by Carewolf (581105)

            Well, the old Doctor Who shows are interesting but not interesting enough to watch.

            As a huge fan of the new series I am constantly tempted to buy and watch some of the old shows, but the pain of repeated disappointment is now holding me back from watching the old crap.

        • Is your /. name a reference to Bobby Abreu?

        • I grew up in a very small town in rural Georgia, not that far from where the movie Deliverance was filmed... and even I was able to watch Doctor Who on a local Georgia PBS television station as a kid, and am quite familiar with Tom Baker (and somewhat with some of the others). That's not even counting the countless pop culture references to Baker, who has largely been portrayed as the iconic Doctor.

          Without Baker, I probably wouldn't have even thought to watch Eccleston and Tennant.

          • by BlueBat (748360)
            Yeah, I grew up in a small town in New York State and I watched Tom Baker when I was a kid as well. I loved the show on PBS. I also watched Benny Hill and a few other shows on different channels from overseas. If anyone hasn't seen Tom Baker's Dr., I advise you to see them. Oh, another British show that I enjoyed when I was younger was the Tomorrow People. I never could get into Monty Python though.
        • by Narcogen (666692)

          Tom Baker? Who's that?

          For us in the other side of the Atlantic, the only Doctors are Christopher Eccleson and David Tennant

          For those on the left side of the Atlantic AND under 30 years of age.

          Public Television in the US broadcast Tom Baker and Peter Davison series of Dr. Who back in the 80s.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I have it on good authority that a vacationing Dennis Hopper revealed the scam to the Russian security services.

      No comment on whether the contractor was working for Keanu Reeves.

    • by cl0s (1322587)

      Considering Photoshop doesn't do video I'd join in on the laughter.

      I kid, I kid, i see the point... just saying...

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It took them five months to uncover this. If the contractor hadn't been greedy, it probably would have gone on a lot longer.

      No it wouldn't have, They would have uncovered this within 6 months in any case because of the weather, when it snows and there's no snow on the video feed (queue snow jokes), you know there's something amiss and that's exactly how they uncovered this.

      • by colesw (951825)
        So instead none of them thought to themselves how strange that it is a thunderstorm outside, but all the security feeds show a sunny day?
    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      Is that me on the Lefortovo tour.

      What's wrong with this picture?

      --

      The cam is a lie. FTFY

    • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug&geekazon,com> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @04:18PM (#30755462) Homepage

      In a Civilized country the company would be fined and the CEO would collect his severance bonus and move to a different company at a higher salary.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        In a Civilized country the company would be fined and the CEO would collect his severance bonus and move to a different company at a higher salary.

        In Soviet Russia, company with higher salary move to you.

  • For those of you that can read Cyrillic, here is the company web site [googleusercontent.com].

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by MrNaz (730548) *

      Cyrillic is a script, not a language. There are several languages that use it, including Russian, which is probably the language of the article you've linked to. It is perfectly possible to be able to read a script, but not understand the language. For example, I can read Italian, because it is in the same script as English, but I can't understand it. The same would apply for those who speak a Cyrillic represented language other than Russian.

      • by JWSmythe (446288)

        You can read Latin characters, but it doesn't mean that you can read Latin. :)

        Many languages share common characters, usually based on the roots of that language.

        But, from what I understand of the languages that use Cyrillic characters, they are very similar, so a speaker of a sister language could understand the text. That would be similar to the way an English reader could understand some words in French, Spanish, or Italian.

        • by dmesg0 (1342071)

          But, from what I understand of the languages that use Cyrillic characters, they are very similar, so a speaker of a sister language could understand the text. That would be similar to the way an English reader could understand some words in French, Spanish, or Italian.

          They are different enough to make understanding quite hard (and sometimes misleading, as the same words may have different meaning in different languages). Besides, there are languages like Mongolian [wikipedia.org] that use cyrillic script, but have nothing in common with Slavic languages.

          • by JWSmythe (446288)

            I will preface this with, IANAL (I Am Not A Linguist), but....

            I just know that some folks who were from ex-soviet states could read and speak to each other in their native languages (not necessarily Russian), and understand each other. They said that their native languages were similar enough to get the idea of what was being discussed.

            I had a glance at the Mongolian language page, and it appears that outer Mongolia uses cyrillic, but inner Mongolia uses Traditi

            • by dmesg0 (1342071)
              It depends. Ukrainians can easily understand Polish (despite different alphabets), but it is not easy for Russians to understand Macedonian. Regarding the Mongolian language, it was just one example of a language with Cyrillic alphabet (the most commonly used one), but unintelligible to Slavic speakers. And there are others [wikipedia.org].
      • by idontgno (624372)

        Of course, there exists a perfectly good counter-example [wikipedia.org], one used by over 1/5 of the Earth's population, a large part of which speak mutually unintelligible languages, and yet can probably all read and understand non-complicated writings in this single writing system.

        But regarding Cyrillic, yeah, recognizing the glyphs isn't necessarily understanding the writing.

    • In case anyone who can't read Russian was wondering... There's nothing useful whatsoever on that site - just the name and contact details of the company (in case you want to phone them or send them a letter), a copyright notice and a link to the site of another company which sells construction materials.

  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by SnarfQuest (469614) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @01:59PM (#30753374)

    Yes, but, did they catch any criminals on them? Who cares if they're faked, as long as they catch the bad guys...

    Oh well, back to my global warming awareness seminar...

    • Re:But... (Score:5, Funny)

      by natehoy (1608657) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:23PM (#30753686) Journal

      Yes, one guy was arrested for armed robbery... 90 times.

      • That too in one day.

        BTW does any one remember the Road Rampage kind of traffic accidents footage in the Discovery Channel that showed a whole series of incredible sliding skidding accidents in a tunnel under the Moscow river and said all these accidents happened on the same day? . I wonder if this contractor provided cameras for the tunnel too?

      • That's a bummer, because anywhere else being in the slammer already is usually a pretty good alibi.

        I think I've seen a movie with a plot along those lines. (Guy's in jail on a minor charge, sneaks out of jail, commits murder and sneaks back in again).

    • Oh well, back to my global warming awareness seminar...

      Like any nature show...

      It is actually kinda annoying as every nature show made lately always has to make some lame comment on how we as humans are making it go away. Sometimes I feel they they should give it a rest...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SnapShot (171582)

        Sometimes I feel they they should give it a rest...

        No kidding. Sometimes reality has such a depressing bias. Maybe they should just replace the "nature" part of the show with something that's not such a downer, like action figures or NASCAR.

        • by natehoy (1608657)

          "Nature: Green Plastic Army Men" just aired. It was great, right up until the end.

          (Voice = "David Attenborough"): "Unfortunately, the once-common army man figurine faces extinction due to overuse of its most valuable resource, petroleum, to move SUVs around."

          D'OH! So much for action figures. On to NASCAR...

          • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            "Unfortunately, this much loved sport may soon be no more due to tree-hugging environmentalists trying to put a stop to the once glorious gas guzzling pastime."

        • Or just a bit more about what they are studding or showing... It isn't about ignoring the issue, it is just about preaching when it isn't always wanted. Do you want to hear every time you post on the internet the carbon you create is melting the icecaps and leaving the polar bears to die.

  • Business Practices (Score:2, Informative)

    by BOFHelsinki (709551)
    From TFA: "Investigators say apart from falsifying pictures the company also distributed a computer virus in order to obstruct activities of its rival in the western district of the capital."

    Gotta love Moscow. :-)

    (And funny if they had the same images for months on end without the monitor watchers noticing anything odd. The article doesn't make it too clear whether the practice was occasional or continuous. Or if it was still images or video loops.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by peragrin (659227)

      Who wants to bet the only reason any one noticed is because it started snowing and on the cameras it was a typical summer day?

    • by mysidia (191772)

      Someone happened to have the same shift 24 hours every other day and got suspicious, when the 48-hour-long video loop showed them the exact same people walking by 3 days in a row, maybe?

    • by ls671 (1122017) *

      This raise the question: What is going to happen to the persons responsible for this in the company ?

      I mean, Russia might not be the hardest country when comes the time to deal with people fooling around with the government but still, I guess they could get a more severe treatment than a similar case in USA.

    • by ArcherB (796902)

      (And funny if they had the same images for months on end without the monitor watchers noticing anything odd. The article doesn't make it too clear whether the practice was occasional or continuous. Or if it was still images or video loops.)

      (In a strong Russian accent)
      Every day it's the same thing; the same people, same things happen, even the weather is the same. It's like that movie made by those American pigs "Groundhog day" except here in formerly Soviet Russia, it's not a movie, it's real life.

  • No, this has absolutely nothing to do with Dinosaurs, but there is a scene where Nedry is on the phone with a "video feed" to the docks.

    If you look closely now, you can see that the video feed is just a pre-recorded video playing in whatever video player was offered in the early Mac Versions. I wouldn't expect anything more, given the era the movie was shot in, and to the untrained eye it would appear pretty cool.

    But anytime I watch that part of the movie now, I just chuckle.

    • Oh, and the "Timer" he used for his security shutdown program that he starts at the same moment he starts his watch, is just the Stopwatch application. Oh fun times!

    • by greed (112493)

      It could be worse. It could be a movie where the Bat Computer is nothing but a 20th Anniversary Macintosh with Kaleidescope to re-skin the UI.

  • Arrested the CEO? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pluther (647209) <pluther@nOSpam.usa.net> on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:11PM (#30753512) Homepage

    What gets me is that they actually arrested the CEO over this.

    If this had happened in the US, the company would have gotten a fine at most. Likely amounting to about a tenth of what they made.

    And maybe a couple of low-level employees would have been fired while the CEO gets a nice bonus...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by SnarfQuest (469614)

      More likely, he would have been made the video security czar

    • by sznupi (719324)

      Exactly, that's the big news here - CEO actually being held accountable at the least for his grave failure in preventing fraud.

      Now, where we could have applied this in recent year...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MattSausage (940218)
      Well, I daresay CEO in this case refers to the guy who answered the phones and hired three or four guys off the street to install videocameras. You can be President and CEO of any company as long as you own it. And if that were the case in the US, I'm pretty sure he'd also be arrested.
    • You forget the russian government has zero policy for people screwing with them....even their own population...
      I guess this is why there is so much less immigration status problems there then here in Canada...they do not get walked all over.

    • ... the government controls the companies!

    • Maybe there is more to it. Maybe that same person had something to gain by knowing the cameras were not working.

  • Let me guess (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by HangingChad (677530)
    Surveillance cameras operated by Fox News?
  • It doesn't matter the country - so much of "security" is simply following obeying form. A great deal of it is cargo-cult behavior. In more respectable circles, this is called "auditing", but the result is the usually (not always) same. To a great extent, the practice of security is a particularly weird form of consensus risk-spreading. A manager authorizes paying a consultancy to pay a box checker to create forms for a company to fill out, you do so. When your security fails, people review the paperwork, an

  • Outsourcing Risk (Score:3, Insightful)

    by benjamindees (441808) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @02:28PM (#30753764) Homepage

    I get the impression that most of the cameras were working at some point, but failed. And this is why the company started sending fake (cached) images. I wonder how many were damaged by unhappy citizens. And I wonder what the company was thinking when they signed up to be responsible for replacing security cameras that they should have known were likely to come under attack.

    Really this should almost be unsurprising. In any business, there's a huge incentive to outsource the most risky tasks just to have someone to blame when things go wrong. Personally, as a contractor, I hate working by the hour and would rather have my work judged on it's merits rather than by how long it takes. And for that reason I always have to carefully manage the amount of risk I'm willing to take for any job, and to weigh it against the fees offered.

    Clearly in this case the contractor in question did not account for the amount of risk he was taking on. And clearly the Moscow police didn't have much incentive to take enough of the responsibility of securing their cameras on themselves. The result is the contractor in jail and the police acting like they had no idea there was any problem. Typical, really.

  • ...policemen think YOU are looking younger!
  • ... in Soviet Russia, TV does not watch you?

  • They did this in Speed and Homer simpson did the same thing as well to get out of work.

  • That the amount of effort to develop software to fake all this was probably equal to the amount of actually setting up the cameras properly.

  • What is this, rt.com?? The same site had a story about a Ukranian guy who was building his house from stolen tombstones and another about a hairdresser who forced a would-be robber to be her sex slave ... entertaining, but not exactly a place I'd go for credible journalism.
  • Crime officially did not exist. Everything offcially worked the way it was supposed to.

    Since Russia once again has a totalitarian government, and its government and culture retain many similarities with Soviet Communism, maybe the Moscow Police turned a blind eye, as it were, to the fact that the cameras weren't working. Maybe the cops put the hapless camera vendor up to pretending the cameras worked.

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