Colorado police body cameras
Two Colorado police officers wear body cameras on their usual patrol through Colorado Springs. Law enforcement agencies and civil rights groups are still examining the best way to use this new kind of technology. Retuers/Rick Wilking

Police body cameras manufactured by Martel Electronics, a California company, have been shipped to law enforcement agencies after being infected with a notorious computer worm, researchers found. The Conficker worm, also known as Downup, Downadup and Kido, was first discovered in 2008 and is believed to have infected millions of computers in 190 countries.

Now police using body cameras from Martel seem to be the latest victim. Jarrett Pavao and Charles Auchinleck, researchers from the IT company iPower Technologies, examined two Martel cameras and found that, when the machines were plugged into a computer, they immediately triggered the PC's antivirus warning. They then allowed the worm to spread to the computer and watched as the infection multiplied to other devices connected to the same network.

“iPower initiated a call and multiple emails to the camera manufacturer, Martel, on November 11th 2015,” said the researchers, as quoted by Ars Technica Monday. “Martel staff has yet to provide iPower with an official acknowledgment of the security vulnerability. Ipower President, Jarrett Pavao, decided to take the story public due to the huge security implications of these cameras being shipped to government agencies and police departments all over the country.”

Martel's website says the company has been selling its electronic equipment to police departments for 20 years. The $499 body camera clips to the chest of a police officer's uniform to record video and location data, which is then uploaded to a computer via USB.

The hackers behind Conficker have never been identified, though the computer worm has exploited Windows PCs for years. It was found on French, German and British military computers in 2009, causing the temporary grounding of aircraft and other inconveniences.