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Discovered at DEFCON 27: automated license plate readers (ALPRs) being hoodwinked by clothing

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

It seems Joe Public is shouting “privacy here, privacy there, privacy everywhere,” as people are pushing back against certain technologies that could, or people believe could, misidentify them and track, monitor and record their actions, or be the catalyst to their personal information and identity being stolen.

It’s a double-edged sword really; people want to use the technology to ensure safety and security, but at the same time, they want no interference with their privacy. It’s all or nothing. Unfortunately, we aren’t at a point with technology where “good” people are automatically excluded from the “bad.” However, one solution to protect privacy presented itself about a week ago at none other than DEFCON 27

As over 25,000 security professionals and researchers, federal government employees, lawyers, journalists, and of course, hackers with an interest in anything and everything that can be hacked descended on Las Vegas’ Paris, Bally’s, Flamingo and Planet Hollywood Convention Centers, professional ethical hacker and now, fashion designer, Kate Rose, debuted her weapon of choice against ALPRs and surveillance — t-shirts, hoodies, jackets, dresses and skirts. 

Knows as Adversarial Fashion, each garment is purposely designed to trigger ALPRs and inject data rubbish into systems used by states and its contractors, believed by some to monitor and track civilians. Rose tested a series of modified license plate images with commercial ALPR APIs and created fabric patterns that read into LPRs as if they are authentic license plates. Priced at no more than 50 bucks, tops, you too can now fool ALPRs with your clothes! 

Don’t feel like shelling out your hard-earned money? Not to worry! Rose lists all the resources needed to make your own computer vision-triggering fashion and fabric designs on her site, along with a hyperlinked list of libraries and APIs, image editing tools, color palette extraction tools and textile pattern tutorials. In addition, slides from her DEFCON 27 Crypto and Privacy Village talk, “Sartorial Hacking to Combat Surveillance,” offering the following how-to guide of designing your own anti-surveillance clothes: 

  1. Choose a recognition system and experiment with design constraints, starting with high confidence images.
  2. Test tolerances by making slight modifications to source images. 
  3. Make notes of “cue” attributes that affect confidence scores. 
  4. Plot enough images to determine what seems to work. 
  5. Use images that work to design a pattern and digitally print it onto fabric. 

I’m not too sure if this is a 5-step method to early retirement, but I can say people are demanding privacy and obviously, being very creative in their fight for it. 

 

A decade of success for iluminar

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02/08/2019

IRVINE, Calif—Last month signified a decade in the security business world for iluminar, a manufacturer and supplier of IR and white light illuminators, and license plate recognition products.

PlateSmart to take LPR to the cloud

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I spoke with John Chigos, CEO of license plate recognition provider PlateSmart, which bills itself as the only “software only LPR solution.”

It’s a newer company that got its start at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. “That was our beta,” Chigos said.

Chigos officially introduced the product to the market in 2013 and it’s now deployed in locations such as the Port of Tamp, Florida hospitals, a large fashion house (for use at its distribution points, in traffic safety monitoring applications, and college campuses.

The 20-employee firm, based in Oldmar, Fla., is privately held. It has “growth equity from [undisclosed] VCs, and will continue to do that until we reach sufficient size to continue growth internally,” Chigos explained.  
 
The company is in growth mode right now, Chigos said, “bringing on additional sales and marketing people as well as increasing our development staff.”

Unlike the LPR “hardware/software solutions,” Chigos said he envisioned an open platform that would work with all kinds of hardware and software. PlateSmart is ONVIF compliant, works with Exacq, OnSSI and other VMS providers and it has relationships with a number of analog and IP camera providers including Pelco, Panasonic, Samsung and Axis.

Chigos says PlateSmart can “use existing equipment and [end users] get more robust analytics.”

Because no hardware is involved, customization is quick, he said.

PlateSmart offers a mobile application, designed for law enforcement, and a fixed-location platform called ARES. The next step will be to offer Platesmart in a cloud-based SaaS form, making it affordable smaller organizations, and also giving installers a new revenue stream.  

In addition, PlateSmart can read “jurisdictional data … it can recognize the state, province or country and provide that data with the plate-read,” which provides more data and accuracy for the end user, he said.

It can also read the color of the vehicle, which can help determine if a car has the correct license plate.

PlateSmart’s basic package is two cameras but it can easily scale to a couple hundred cameras, he said.

What about privacy concerns? Chigos said that “LPR does not provided the information many people believe it provides. Our technology carries out the process of [identifying vehicles of interest] for law enforcement …it’s not for enforcement on the other side of the equation [ie.] who’s running a red light.”

He describes PlateSmart technology as “speeding up the process [of identifying vehicles] that law enforcement and security have done visually for decades.”

Furthermore, he says “we never touch, see, or handle the [license plate] data. Only the end user of the technology can see or act on the data.”

Companies that get involved with LP data, particularly selling that data, are the ones that cause legitimate privacy concerns, he said.

Chigos quoted research group IHS, saying the worldwide market for LPR is estimated to be $600 million today and is projected to grow to $1 billion by 2018.

“Applications for LPR are growing everyday,” Chigos said. “It’s going to be a mainstay of security in this country because it delivers information in real time.”
 

LPR helps Georgia police solve homicide

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10/01/2013

LIVERMORE, Calif.—Police in Cobb County, Georgia say a license plate reader from Vigilant Solutions helped them solve a homicide, Vigilant announced Oct. 1.

3VR partners with HTS

Video search plus analytics equals ‘almost real time’ actionable intelligence
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12/15/2010

SAN FRANCISCO–3VR Security, an intelligent analytics and search solution provider, on Dec. 1 announced a partnership with High-Tech Solutions (HTS), a provider of license-plate recognition technology.