16 Replies Latest reply on Jun 11, 2009 9:31 AM by Ned Rich

    Video capture and viruses


      Hello - this may sound paranoid, but does anyone know if viruses (and other harmful files) can ride on media files that have been captured from a video player (DV or HDV)?  Meaning that if I capture a video file from tape, can I be sure that it is virus free or is there a possibility that it might carry a virus from the computer from which it was exported?  Can cameras carry viruses which they transmit to tapes and subsequently to the editing platform?


      Thanks in advance.

        • 1. Re: Video capture and viruses
          Jim_Simon Level 8

          There is a technique to embed a virus into video recorded to a camera, but it requires the use of a specific type of laser, which must be pulsing directly into the lens at the time of recording.  Aparently, the laser pulses create a type of code in the video stream itself, which isn't visible to the naked eye, but which can be executed when a computer software player then plays the captured video.  So far, I've not heard of the virus doing anything nasty to the computer itself, they just seem to mess with the playback of the video file so that it becomes unwatchable.


          The problem with viruses, however, is that someone always comes along and eventually makes them do worse and worse things to your system.  So extreme care must be taken when capturing video.  ALWAYS run the clips through a virus scanner before importing them into Premiere Pro.












          • 2. Re: Video capture and viruses
            Eddie Lotter Level 4

            In case you missed Jim's smilie, the answer to your question is "no".



            • 3. Re: Video capture and viruses
              gsonti Level 1

              What a shame - I was wondering where I could find such a laser so I could send Jim an infected tape


              But seriously - if mobile phones and other devices can carry viruses, I'm surprised that camera memories can't.

              • 4. Re: Video capture and viruses
                Jim_Simon Level 8

                The methods in which cameras aquire data, lenses and microphones, just aren't capable of transmitting anything other than light and sound waves.  So a virus simply isn't possible.  (At least, not untl they make a video camera that connects to the Internet.)

                • 5. Re: Video capture and viruses
                  gsonti Level 1

                  Yes, of course I know that lenses and mics can't pick up viruses.  But what if an infected tape is inserted into a camera, which then acquires the virus and transmits it to the next tape?  I'm assuming that a tape - like any other medium for data storage - is capable of carrying and transmitting viruses and other harmful content.  Or does the firewire  interface (DV / HDV) make this impossible?  That was my question.

                  • 6. Re: Video capture and viruses
                    Fred Mann Level 1

                    I would not worry about tape systems.

                    DVDs could have a virus imbedded on the blank (?) RW disk, which would be executed when inserted in a PC, and auto-played!

                    Just another reason to stick with DV.


                    • 7. Re: Video capture and viruses
                      Jim_Simon Level 8

                      I'm assuming that a tape - like any other medium for data storage - is capable of carrying and transmitting viruses and other harmful content.


                      Think about it, though.  Where would the virus come from?  If the tape get's its data from the lens and mics, how would you get the virus in there?  I offered a scenario in my first response, but to the best of my knowledge, such is purely fiction.  So where is the virus coming from?

                      • 8. Re: Video capture and viruses
                        gsonti Level 1

                        Camcorders may be used to capture or playback tapes.  If it is possible for a virus to ride on a media file and pass through the firewire interface, then it may lodge itself in the camera's memory chip.  When another tape is inserted into the camera, the virus gets on to this tape and from there to another computer.  The big if is whether viruses and other harmful files can pass through the firewire interface.  The other two respondents seem to think they couldn't.  I find that odd, considering that many other interfaces (bluetooth, wi-fi etc.) are not virus proof.

                        • 9. Re: Video capture and viruses
                          Jim_Simon Level 8

                          I have to give you props.  Your fiction is every bit as good as mine.

                          • 10. Re: Video capture and viruses
                            Phil Griffith Level 2

                            Just make sure you don't video any pigs. Otherwise you could get  the dreaded swine camera virus!

                            • 11. Re: Video capture and viruses
                              gsonti Level 1

                              Thankfully there are fewer swine here.


                              My original post related mainly to:


                              1. Whether a virus or other malicious program could be embedded in a media file (AVI or MPEG),
                              2. If so, whether it would be recorded onto a DV tape when the file is exported (or does the manner in which data gets written on to a tape make this impossible),
                              3. If the virus has been written on tape, can it make it’s appearance on another computer, when this tape is captured as a media file?


                              The question about cameras was incidental, but not as far-fetched as it may seem.

                              • 12. Re: Video capture and viruses
                                Jim_Simon Level 8

                                1. Yes, if one has the technical skill to do so.  I don't have that skill, but I'm not aware of this being possible with DV files.  I've only ever seen it with MPEGs or MOV files.


                                2. Probably not, especially when recorded to tape via Premiere.  If someone were to hand you a data disk or hard drive with media files, that is the more likely method of transference.


                                3. See 2 above.

                                • 13. Re: Video capture and viruses
                                  the_wine_snob Level 9

                                  Sounds like a modernized take on the "scratch film" and seizures. I think that I would be more concerned with those danged embedded subliminal messages, "Buy Adobe!" that are attached during Capture.





                                  • 14. Re: Video capture and viruses
                                    the_wine_snob Level 9

                                    Also, think about the work involved and the randomness of the transfer method. If one is writing viruses, Trojans, WORM's, etc., they want to make the transfer method easy and also targeted, if they plan on getting something for their efforts. To write the code, embed it into a tape (or other medium to work in a camera), they would want to know that their distribution of this nefarious element would stand even a slim chance of getting distributed. How often do you put someone else's tape into your camera to capture? Even if you were to be specifically targeted with such a plan, would it be worth the effort? Now, if a street vendor in Singapore was handing out pre-recorded tapes to all who passed by, urging them to try this out in your camera, then I might be suspicious.


                                    The likelihood that someone would target a specific recipient with such a plot might make good material for the next installment of Mission Impossible. Perhaps if you have "dissed" a grad student at MIT, you should watch out for any tape that they give you to "try at home." Otherwise, I think that one would be perfectly safe. Far safer than going to any Chinese Web site with your guard down.



                                    • 15. Re: Video capture and viruses
                                      Fred Mann Level 1

                                      A virus has to be executable code to do anything to a PC's software.  Video data is not 'executed' in a PC, it is only decoded for a picture.  So, one could imbed a picture, but any viral code would only produce artifacts, or glitches.


                                      DVDs contain authored code, which is executed, and it could contain a virus!



                                      • 16. Re: Video capture and viruses
                                        Ned Rich

                                        Just to add to your level of paranoia, way back in 2004 the first virus to infect jpeg files was released.  It caused problems when opened using the standard Microsoft jpeg viewer software of the time, since patched.  http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/09/24/jpeg_exploit_toolkit/  It may be entirely possible that there is some sloppy code somewhere in a codec that will allow a similar virus to be inserted into a video and a codec could probably easily be written that would allow for it (another reason to avoid random codecs).  This would only be a problem with video files obtained other than directly from a camera, as the malware would have to be inserted by something and a camera writing to a blank tape wouldn't do it.


                                        However, who knows what might be in all those ready to watch videos found on the web