Backdoored.io is an art piece involving the collection and exploration of images found in public search engine results from unsecured surveillance cameras, in an attempt to demonstrate our growing online vulnerability.
I began this project about six months ago, when a friend sent me an article about new generation search engines that search connected devices (the ‘Internet of Things’) rather than just web content. On investigation I discovered that these search engines’ results contained extraordinary images taken by IP surveillance cameras, often domestic, from all around the world. Many of these images are from private spaces: gardens, homes, living rooms, even bedrooms. Sometimes they include people. The people who set up and appear in these images are presumably completely unaware that their “security” cameras are broadcasting their lives to the world.
My art practice to date has often addressed issues of privacy and surveillance. So I decided to start collecting these images from the search engine results, because I want to demonstrate how fragile our privacy is in this bold new age of ubiquitous connectivity.
This project isn’t about exposing the activities of the search engines. They are simply identifying security loopholes caused by inexpert webcam setup. Even if they were to stop searching for these webcams, the cameras would still be wide open and vulnerable to more malicious agencies.
In fact this issue goes far beyond webcams. As we become increasingly dependant on internet-connected devices, collecting, recording and sharing data about our lives, relationships, activities, health, security, we need to remember that all of these devices are vulnerable to being Backdoored – just like these webcams. This is a global issue and ordinary people shouldn’t be expected to be security experts in order to keep themselves secure. We need to put pressure on our lawmakers, regulators and manufacturers to ensure that these new technologies can be used safely.
Code for Backdoored by Colm Ginty