ADI Refuses to Fix Their OEM'd Hikvision Security Risks [Solved]

Author: Brian Karas, Published on Mar 09, 2016

More than a year after massive hacks against Hikvision was disclosed; More than 9 months after Hikvision issued improved security firmware, mega distributor and Hikvision OEM ADI still refuses to fix the well-known security risk.

ADI is still shipping W-Box IP Cameras using the exploited 5.2 firmware, with no option for the improved 5.3 release. We repeatedly encouraged ADI to fix this, with a public notice more than 5 months ago.

ADI's Supposed 'Fix'

ADI did issue what they call a 'patch' but the patch is primarily a pop-up warning, still allowing the weak default password, without the stronger security enhancements that Hikvision has deployed in 5.3.

ADI claims they take "cyber security very seriously" but their 'patch' shows otherwise. We recommend users avoid W-Box until and unless they adopt the security measures that Hikvision recommends and that other Hikvision OEMs have adopted.

Risks Publicly Traded Company

ADI is a billion dollar plus division of Honeywell, an American publicly traded company with an $83 billion market valuation.

ADI is buying from a Chinese government controlled company, Hikvision, and continuing to ship software that their Chinese supplier has deemed risky.

Given the increased public awareness of cyber security risks and ADI's refusal to take action for such a long period, this exposes their parent company to potential liability and their customers to security breaches.

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Background of Hikvision Hacks

These problems emerged in March 2015, when it was disclosed that Hikvision was hacked inside Chinese government networks, following numerous reports of Hikvision being hacked around the world (see: Hikvision Hacking Incidents). Indeed, this generated international news and Hikvision's stock trading had to be temporarily suspended to deal with the crisis.

Upgrade Available 9+ Months Ago

In response to this, Hikvision significantly improved their firmware to close out the most basic and significant risk exposures in their 5.3 release from April / May 2015. Release notes for the 5.3.0 firmware on Hikvisions website note the security improvements.

Below is an example of a Hikvision camera with the improved 5.3 software that Hikvision rates as 'strong' security:

By contrast, the ADI W-Box camera that still only has 5.2 software is reported by Hikvision as 'risky':

ADI 'New' Manufacturer Must Be Responsible

Only in the past few years has ADI tried their hand as a "manufacturer", primarily by OEMing finished goods, ranging from IP cameras to 6 Zone Metal Detectors to piezo buzzers.

The level of risk, and responsibility, associated with a being a conscientious supplier of network-connected devices like a camera or recorder is high. This requires more involvement than just adding a logo and markup.

Warning to ADI 5+ Months Ago

Certainly, ADI must (or should be aware of this). Indeed, IPVM issued a warning on this in September 2015, to help both ADI, their dealers and end users be aware of this risk. We contacted ADI's President four days ago and they say they are working on a response but no details have yet been shared.

Security conscious companies would have a ready answer to questions regarding 9-month old security vulnerabilities, if not an actual fix.

Risk for ADI Cameras To Be Insecure For Years

Firmware upgrades after installation, especially for budget-oriented products like W-Box, are rare. The "if it ain't broke, don't fit it" rule is the mindset here, though in this case the cameras are technically "broken". Customers with W-Box product may not realize the attack surface exposed via the W-Box cameras, each one being a tiny exploitable computer on the customer's network. In the past, Hikvision NVRs have been hacked to become pitiful bitcoin miners, hacked cameras could be put to similar tasks, potentially reducing their functionality. It would even be relatively simple to have a hacked camera replace live video with stored static images, or upload periodic images to a rouge server.

Because of this, these ADI cameras may continue to leave customers exposed for 5 or even 10 years, potentially to exploits that have not been considered yet.

Other OEMs (Including Tri-Ed) Have Been Fixed

Two of ADI's direct competitors, Anixter's Tri-Ed and LTS, who also OEM Hikvision, have fixed / upgraded to the 5.3 firmware. While Hikvision has myriad OEMs, and it is impossible to verify all, these cases show that others in similar situation have been able to resolve this.

OEMing Hikvision Adds Bullseye

Because Hikvision is the largest supplier of cameras in the world, and ADI is one of the largest distributors in the world, this makes their devices quite attractive for hackers to target, not only because of the widely known flaws but the sheer mass of these cameras deployed.


UPDATE March 11 2016:

ADI responded stating they had created a patch for 5.2 with security fixes, that response unedited and in full is below:

ADI takes cyber security very seriously and we stand behind the products we sell. We release firmware updates as security impacts are identified and patches are ready for release by manufacturers. In fact, we received the 5.2 corrective patch from Hikvision in December 2015, and immediately made it available to customers on the website.

In response to your questions:

1) Is there any reason that current or recently shipped (last 9 months) W-Box cameras cannot be upgraded to 5.3?

The Wbox equipment can be upgraded via firmware upgrade. The 5.2 security patch, which is the basis of your article, was released and posted to website in December. If the patch had been installed in your camera, and your password configured as the patch recommends, the camera would reflect strong security.

2) What is the rationale for staying on 5.2 instead of upgrading to 5.3?

5.3 is a version release that included new features as well as a security upgrade. We elected to issue a patch to enhance security.

3) Does ADI intend to offer 5.3 (or a newer version if in the works) within the next 30 days?

ADI consistently reviews our product line and incorporates new product features regularly.

4) Does ADI have, or plan to incorporate, a plan or policy for staying up to date with future firmware releases for W-Box?

We release firmware updates as security impacts are identified and patches are ready for release. The security patch for this issue was released in December, when we received it.

Michael [ADI President]

Our findings show that this W-Box firmware does not enforce the same security as Hikvision's own 5.3 firmware:

We downloaded the current firmware from and installed this firmware on a W-Box test unit.

We have reached out to ADI for additional clarification and will update with any response.

UPDATE March 16, 2016

We have not received any additional followup from ADI, despite multiple attempts and questions to them. The security in ADI's patched 5.2 firmware release is still weak and reflects a poor effort on ADI's part to take "cyber security very seriously". Users of W-Box cameras should take additional precautions to avoid having cameras directly connected to the Internet.

UPDATE June 2, 2016

ADI has finally fixed the issue, upgrading to 5.3. Here is the new instructions and the 5.3 firmware.

This clip shows the activation process now required in the web interface, rejecting the old default password of "wbox123", requiring 8 characters and special characters.

1 report cite this report:

ADI Finally Fixes Hikvision OEM'd Security Risk on Jun 09, 2016
After refusing for months to fix the obvious security risks, ADI has given in and fixed it. Two important lessons here: ADI knows little about...
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