QR.bizNewsUS Customs and Border Protection target of 'malicious cyber attack'

US Customs and Border Protection target of 'malicious cyber attack'

"The subcontractor's network was subsequently compromised by a malicious cyber-attack.No CBP systems were compromised", the agency said in a statement on Monday.

That information dump, which encompassed hundreds of gigabytes of data, included internal emails and databases, documentation and client details, blueprints, backups, music, and more.

The breach first came to light on May 31.

CBP did not disclose the contractor but said the image file transfer violated security and privacy protocols in its contract.

CBP said its own systems had not been compromised, and the agency writes that, as of Monday, "none of the image data has been identified on the Dark Web or internet".

Last fall, airport and federal officials showed off facial recognition technology, created to replace the paper boarding pass and speed up the worldwide flight boarding process.

Face matching is being used in some U.S. airports.

"This breach comes just as CBP seeks to expand its massive face recognition apparatus and collection of sensitive information from travelers, including license plate information and social media identifiers", said Neema Singh Guliani, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union.

"The best way to avoid breaches of sensitive personal data is not to collect and retain such data in the first place".

The images of travelers were captured as part of a facial-recognition program.

The Washington Post reported that the subcontractor might have been Perceptics, a Tennessee-based imaging company that provides vehicle license plate readers to the USA government, including at border checkpoints. "Even if you 100% trust the United States government with your biometric information (which you shouldn't) this is a reminder that once your face is scanned and stored in a database, it's easily shared across government agencies, stolen by hackers, other governments, etc". Police agencies have also used the data to look for potential criminal suspects.

Perceptics, the Tennessee-based imaging software company, confirmed it was aware of the hack in an email to the Register.

The company also said recently that it had installed license-plate readers at 43 U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint lanes across Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, saying they offered border guards "superior images with the highest license plate read rate accuracy in North America". It's these photos database that the hacker gained access to.

A representative didn't tell TechCrunch how much data had been taken, or how many American citizens were caught up in the breach.

The U.K. computer security website The Register, which said the hacker responsible alerted it to the breach in late May, identified the company as Perceptics.

US Customs and Border Protection says traveler images were taken in cyberattack

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