Axis Critical Security Vulnerability

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jul 06, 2016

Axis has disclosed a 'critical security vulnerability' in most Axis products shipped in the past ~6 years.

Risk of Vulnerability

This has been deemed 'critical' because if an attacker exploits this, they will 'get control of the product', meaning that they could then not only impact the camera's performance but use this to launch other attacks, etc.

Who Is At Risk

If a camera can be accessed, it likely is at risk for being taken over. In practical terms, the highest risk is those cameras exposed to the public Internet. It is important to note that this includes cameras that use UPnP or port forwarding as Axis themselves has acknowledged. Because of this, it is safer to upgrade all of your cameras in case there is any unknown openings. This is also a good reminder not to use UPnP or port forwarding.

Full Public Disclosure Made [Updated]

On July 18th, the researcher made a full public disclosure (report here) including a python script to prove / enable others to perform the attack. As such we strongly advise you to upgrade immediately.

Tested By IPVM

IPVM has tested the vulnerability using the researcher's disclosure. We found that it did allow getting root access to Axis cameras that allowed us to disable, deface and attack various devices.

Broad Vulnerability

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Products starting with firmware 5.20.x, which is from ~2010 time range (e.g., this 2010 5.20.x release note), are vulnerable. Technically, Axis says 6.30 firmware is not vulnerable but that is not shipping as of this publication.

Something they did or component they added in the 5.20.x firmware ~6 years ago is the source of the vulnerability. In that time frame, there has easily been millions of Axis cameras shipped, now at risk.

Delayed Announcement 

It took Axis about a week from the time they first informed partners (by email) to when they informed the general public with a press release.

Cybersecurity Industry Concerns

Axis has been hammering home cybersecurity as a differentiator, part of Axis' superior quality claims (disputed here). Indeed, Hikvision has suffered the most here. Now, Axis has its own issue to face. They will likely emphasize how technical / advanced this vulnerability is but, regardless, it is hard to really promote their own cybersecurity superiority, as they have been doing, in the immediate wake of this.

NOTE: This report was originally published on June 30th, when we first discovered it and substantially re-written on July 6th, when Axis issued a full press release and more details and updated again on July 18th after disclosure was made.

16 reports cite this report:

Axis 5 Vulnerabilities Examined on Dec 01, 2017
A group of vulnerabilities, including a new discovery from bashis (who previously found one of the Dahua backdoors and the 2016 Axis critical...
Vivotek Remote Stack Overflow Vulnerability on Nov 14, 2017
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Dahua Trying, Struggling To Respond To Hacking Attacks on Oct 04, 2017
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Milestone Entry Level Mobile Password Vulnerability Disclosed on May 24, 2017
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Axis Criticizes OEMs: "When You Buy An Axis Camera, An Axis Camera Is What You Get!" on May 19, 2017
When you buy a Honeywell camera, you likely get a Hikvision, Dahua or some other company's product. The same goes for easily 100 different...
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A major cyber security vulnerability across many Dahua products has been discovered by an independent researcher, reported on IPVM, verified by...
Directory of Video Surveillance Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities and Exploits on Nov 16, 2016
This list compiles reported exploits for security products, and is updated regularly. We have summarized exploits by date and by manufacturer,...
1 New Acquisition Per Year Planned for Qognify (Former Nice Security) on Aug 23, 2016
Want to be acquired? Qognify, the former Nice Security Group, has big money behind it and the plans for multiple acquisitions. In this note, we...
Axis OrwellLabs Exploit Tested on Jul 29, 2016
Another exploit has been reported for Axis cameras (OrwellLabs AXIS Authenticated Remote Command Execution), less than a month after Axis critical...
Axis Camera Hack Tested on Jul 21, 2016
Full disclosure by the researcher of the Axis critical security vulnerability has been made. But what does this mean? Does it even work? What can...
Axis, Pay Integrators To Fix Your Critical Defect on Jul 14, 2016
Axis should pay integrators to fix Axis' recent disclosed critical security vulnerability / defect.  There are millions of Axis cameras deployed...
IPVM Site Goes All HTTPS, Largest 3 Manufacturers Do Not [Axis, Dahua Fixed] on Jul 12, 2016
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Axis Boasts Kicking Arecont Out of Google on Jul 11, 2016
Axis has displaced Arecont as the standard IP camera for Google, boasts Axis. Inside, we examine Axis statement, Arecont's response and what this...
Interview With Researcher Who Cracked Security Of 70+ DVR Brands on Jul 07, 2016
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Keeping surveillance networks secure can be a daunting task, but there are several methods that can greatly reduce risk, especially when used in...
Remote Network Access for Video Surveillance on Mar 13, 2015
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