Photos of Travelers Taken in Breach of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have revealed that photos of travelers had been compromised as part of a “malicious cyberattack”. Customs officials said in a statement that the images, which included photos of people’s faces and license plates, had been compromised as part of an attack on a federal subcontractor.
CBP use an extensive network of cameras and video recordings at airports and land border crossings, where facial and vehicle images are captured. Those images are used as part of a growing agency facial-recognition program designed to track the identity of people entering and exiting the U.S.
Fewer than 100,000 people were impacted in this cyberattack the CBP said. The affected photographs were taken of people in vehicles entering and exiting the U.S. over a month and a half through a single land border entry port, which CBP did not name. Officials said the stolen information did not include other identifying information, and no passport or other travel document photos were compromised.
One U.S. official, who spoke to Washington Post on condition of anonymity due to lack of authorization to discuss the breach, said it was being described inside CBP as a “major incident.” The official said Perceptics (the alleged subcontractor) was attempting to use the data to refine its algorithms to match license plates with the faces of a car’s occupants, which the official said was outside of CBP’s sanctioned use. The official said the data involved travelers crossing the Canadian border.