Axis Cybersecurity Hardening Guide Examined

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Nov 19, 2015

In most IT areas, 'hardening' guides are commonplace, providing best practices for improving the cybersecurity of network products (e.g., see this Cisco hardening guide).

However, cybersecurity is generally an after thought in the physical security industry, despite an increasing number of hacking incidents.

In a rare proactive move, Axis has released a cybersecurity hardening guide, walking users through recommendations on how to close common security holes and better secure their networks.

In this note, we review this guide, provide a video showing where these settings may be found in the camera, and give our analysis of their practical impact.

** **** ** *****, '*********' guides *** ***********, ********* best ********* *** ********* the ************* ** ******* products (*.*., *** ********* ********* *****).

*******, ************* ** ********* an ***** ******* ** the ******** ******** ********, despite ************ *************** *********.

** * **** ********* ****, Axis*** ******** * ************* hardening *****, ******* ***** ******* recommendations ** *** ** close ****** ******** ***** and ****** ****** ***** networks.

** **** ****, ** review **** *****, ******* a ***** ******* ***** these ******** *** ** found ** *** ******, and **** *** ******** of ***** ********* ******.

[***************]

Protection ******

*** **** ********* ***** defines **** ****** ** protection ******** ** ******* settings *** ********** ** security (*** **********).

***** ****** *** ***** ** recommendations **** ******* ****************** *** ******** ********, ***** ********* ******** ******** ********. **** *** *********** boiled **** ***** ****** documents **** ***** ***** ***** to ** ***** ********. 

Video ***********

*** * ****** ***** below ***** ******* *** points *** *** ******** and ****** ** ****** for **** *******:

Default, ***** *

**** ******* ***** * as "**** *********** *** demo ******** *** **** scenarios":

**** ***** ** ******* as ** ******, ***** default ****** ********. **** makes *** ****** ************ ***** the ******* ****/**** ***********, allows ********* ******* *** PTZ *******, *** ****** the ** ******* ** be ******* *** *** over *** *******, *** insecure *********. ** ** have ******* *** **********, all ** ***** *** bad ********* *** *** most ****** ****** ****** in ***** ********.

*** *** ***** ** ******* *********** ****** ********* - Axis, *****, *******, *** ******* ******** *** ** Video ************ *** **** ***********.

Standard, ***** *

***** * ** ******* as "******* *********** ***** of **********. **** ***** is ******** *** ***** business ** ****** ************* where, *********, *** ******** is **** *** *************."

**** ******** ******* ****** ***** security *********:

  • *********:**** ***** **** **** do ******** ****** *********, *** ********** "** least * **********, ********** using * ******** *********."
  • ******* ********* ******: **** ********* ****** *******, ****** with *** *** ******* of *** ****** *** access **** ***** *** PTZ ********. ** ******* *********, anonymous ****** ** ******** by *******. ***** ****** ensure ***** ******** **** not ******* ************* ** accidentally (***** **** ********).
  • *** ****/****:*** ***** ********** ******** practice ** ******** ******* the **** *** ****. Even ** *** ******** for ***** *******, ******* proper ****/**** *** *** sync, *** ***** ****** less ******, *** ************ if ********** ****** **** to *****.

**** ***** ******* ** HTTPS ** *** *** password ** ***** *, though ******** ** ** a ************** ** **** detail *****, ** ***** 2.

Enterprise, ***** *

***** * ** "*********** settings *** ************ **** have * ********* ****** administrator."

***** * ********** **** advanced ********, *** **** of ***** ******* ******* ** HTTPS *** *** *** interface/other ****, ** **** as ********* ****** ***** and ********* (***, *******, UPnP, ***.). 

*****

*** *** ************** **** makes **** ***** **** may ** ********** **** is ******** ********** (*****). By *******, ********* *** passwords *** **** ** the ****** ** ***** text ***** *** ** easily *********** *** ********* or ***** ****** ********. ******** **** option ******** ********* ******* client *** ****** ** they *** *** ** easily ********. 

** ***** ** ****** HTTPS, ***** *** ****** a ****-****** ***********, ***** is *** ******** ** any *********** ******* ********* and ********* *** ******** as ***** ******, ** create * ******* ** send ** * *********** authority ** ****** * signed ***********.

*********** ***** ****** ********* ** the ******, ********, *** additional ********/******** ********, ****** ********* costs * *** ******* per ***********. **** ******* offer ********* ***** *** several ******* ******* *** year, ***** *** ** used ** ***** ***** deployments ******* ** ****** per ******.

**** **** **** ** clear ** ***** *** that ***/**** ***** *** not ********* ** *******, and ***** ******** ***** only ** **** ******* clients *** *** ******.***** ********* ****** ** ******* **** *** VMS, ***** ** *** universal. ***** *** ******** do *** ******* ***** via *****, *** *******, while ********* *** ******* do.

***** ***************

**** *********** **** *** three practices *** ***** *********** in ** ***** ********:

  • ****** ***** *******:**** ********** ******** * backup ***** ******* **** a ********* ******** **** the ******* *******, ** users *** ***** *** in ****** ****** ******* ****** compromised. **** ** ****** in ** *******, *** rarely **** ** ******** security. **** ***** **** use *** ******* ***** account ** *******.
  • ******/*** *******:************, **** ********* ******** a **** ** *** camera *** *** ***/*** users, ******** **** *** admin *******(*). **** ******* the ******** ** *** admin *******. *******, **** VMSes *** ******* ************** privileges *** ****** ********* (though * ******** ***** account *** *** ********** is ***** **** ********).
  • ** ******* *********:*******, **** ********** ******** only *** ******* *** admin ******* ** ****** cameras ********, *** ** address *********. **** ** a ******, *** ***** overlooked ***** ** ******** access ** *******, ***** any ******* **** **** be **** **** *** authorized ********. **** ***** that * ********** *** use **** ***** *********** machines ** ****** ********, which **** *** **** annoying.

Managed **********, ***** *

*******, ***** * ** ********* as "***** ******* ************** with ** **/** **********. For ************ ***** ******* may **** ** ** integrated **** ** ********** network **************."

***.**

** **** *****, **** recommends ***** ***.**, ***** ******** devices ** ** ************* by * ****** ****** being ******* ** ******* to *** *******. ******* ******* credentials ****** ** *** work. 802.1x ** ********* ********** on *** ******* ******.

***.** ** ********* *********** by ***** ********** ********, as ** **** *********** complexity *** ************** ** the *******. ** ** very ******, *** ****** the ************ ** **** users, *** ****** ******** for **** ************ *************.

**** **********

**** ********** ***** **** monitoring ** *** *******. ******* Axis ******* ***** ******* security ******** *****, ********* "Authentication ******" ************, ** notify ************** ** ****** logins, ** **** ** general ****** ********* ******.

** **** ***.**, **** is ********* **** ** only **** ************* ** organizations, ** ** ******** more ******* ***** *** knowledge. *******, **** **** or *** **** ******* monitoring ********* ******** **** common, ***** ********** *** be ********* ** **** small ******** ** ******* some ********** ******* *** available ** *** ****** or **** *** ***.

*** *** ******* ********** / **** for ***** ************ ***** *** **** *********** *** tutorials, ********* *********** ** Axis' ******** **** **************.

****** ****** ***

****** ******* ******* * central ******** *** ******** devices ** **** *** files **. ******* ** SNMP **********, *** ********* by **** ** *** same ******* ********** *****, syslog ***** *** ****** in **** **** ** the ******, ***** **** checks ****** *** *** notify ************** ** ******. Some ** ***** ****** may ** ********* ** SNMP ** ******* ** use, ****** ****** **** common, ********** ** ************.

Overall ****** ***************

*** **** ********* *****, in ******** ** **** specific ***********, ******** ******* practical *************** *** ********* security ** ** ***** networks. ***** **** *****, which ******** ********** ************* time *** **** *** the ****** *** ***********, the *************** ** ****** 1 *** * ****** take **** * *** minutes ** *********, **** if *********** ******* ** bulk. 

**** ******* *** ***** cost *** ********** ** HTTPS, ***** ** ****** many ***** **** *** implement, ***** ***** *************** do **** ** ******* ****** attack ****** ** ******** networks.

Other ************* *** *********

** *** *** ***** of *** ***** ** camera ************* **** ********* guides. ***** *********'* ***** record, ** ********** ******* with **** **** **** a **** *** *** have *** ******** * response *** ******* **** do *** **** ***.

Comments (12)

In current firmwares, anonymous access is disabled by default.

I'm not sure what Axis define as anonymous access, but I as far as I can tell ONVIF access with full rights are enabled by default with no user name or password needed, not even root pass.

Do Axis Cameras Default To No Password Required?

It is indeed available by default, but it's disabled as soon as you assign a root password.

Anonymous access refers to viewing/PTZ control via the web interface without login.

It is indeed available by default, but it's disabled as soon as you assign a root password.

Which you need never do, if using a VMS.

Sure, that's true, but it's unlikely.

First off, most VMSes include direct Axis drivers and cameras are discovered as such. The vast majority of people spending money on Axis instead of cheaper alternatives are going to know this and use the right driver, which requires creating the password.

Second, if you never enter the web interface, you likely will not be able to configure several things. Basic things like detailed CODEC settings may not be exposed, the date and time are rarely set via VMS, text overlays/titles, autofocus, etc., etc. As well as advanced features which people tend to buy Axis for, like Zipstream, ACAP applications, all that. You can't update firmware without setting the password, either, since it's done via the web or Axis Camera Management client.

The vast majority of people spending money on Axis instead of cheaper alternatives are going to know this and use the right driver, which requires creating the password.

Are you sure that adding a defaulted Axis camera w/Axis driver requires creating a new root password?

What happens when you try to add thru the VMS before you have created it? Does it just fail?

Maybe it has changed again, but when I looked at it a few months ago it seemed to match what the guide said:

The first time a user access the device using the web interface a password for the default root as is illustrated...

Once the root user has a password the device only accepts access according to the access permissions...

However, if the device is first accessed using the VAPIX API (i.e. not the GUI) there is no hard requirement from the device to enter users with proper credentials. Instead, as this is the normal way a camera is plugged into a VMS, the client application is trusted to add proper users to the device to control the access as described above. - Axis Authentication Guide

I tried it earlier with Exacq, and yes, failed. Firmware 5.80.1.2

Here's exactly what I am talking about, shown in this video.

  • 0:00 - Live View - Feedback FOV
  • 0:05 - Latest Firmware shown - 5.7.2
  • 0:13 - Reset All Parameters to Factory Default
  • 0:17 - 01:41 Nothing - (My submission for Bootup shootout)
  • 1:42 - Begin attempt home page retrieval
  • 2:23 - Home page retrieved - requests creation of root password
  • 2:24 - Request Ignored
  • 2:25 - VLC open network stream rtsp://root:pass@192.168.200.10:554/axis-media/media.amp
  • 2:35 Stream opened with default root:pass credential

Maybe 5.8.x is key?

I tried mine with Exacq as well and it also failed with a Camera Connect error 10061.

VLC, on the other hand, still continues to work with root:pass (and only root:pass).

Actually, Exacq wasn't a total failure, even though there is no video (thru Exacq), it lets me add the camera and then lets me see random things like the resolution and the frame rate. Wireshark shows it failing on some VAPIX commands and succeding on others.

So anonymous viewing by default, at least.

Not sure what other VMSes would do, but it doesn't seem likely that this is Axis' intended behavior, would you agree?

Isn't there issues with turning on HTTPS and connecting the camera to a VMS?

Good question, and yes. If the VMS doesn't support login via HTTPS, it will fail to connect. I just forced an Axis Q camera to HTTPS for login and Exacq fails to connect.

Excellent article. We primarily use Axis cameras in our environment so this is very useful information.

Update: Bosch now has a 'data security' / hardening guide out.

Login to read this IPVM report.

Related Reports

Use Access Control Logs To Constrain Coronavirus on Apr 09, 2020
Access control users have included capabilities that are not commonly used...
Convergint Coronavirus Cuts on Mar 25, 2020
One of the world's largest security integrators, Convergint, has made a major...
Access Control ADA and Disability Laws Tutorial on Feb 17, 2020
Safe access control is paramount, especially for those with...
China Surveillance Vulnerabilities Being Used To Attack China, Says China on Apr 07, 2020
While China video surveillance vulnerabilities have been much debated in the...
Help Security End Users Facing Coronavirus Improve Remote Access on Mar 24, 2020
Many end-users and integrators are struggling with the impact of coronavirus...
BICSI For IP Video Surveillance Guide on Feb 11, 2020
Spend enough time around networks and eventually someone will mention BICSI,...
Vehicle Gate Access Control Guide on Mar 19, 2020
Vehicle gate access control demands integrating various systems to keep...
Hazardous & Explosion Proof Access Control Tutorial on Feb 27, 2020
Controlling access to hazardous environments requires equipment meeting...
Converged vs Dedicated Networks For Surveillance Tutorial on Feb 12, 2020
Use the existing network or deploy a new one? This is a critical choice in...
Breaking Into A Facility Using Canned Air Tested on Jan 28, 2020
Access control is supposed to make doors more secure, but a $5 can of...
Facial Recognition 101 on Mar 18, 2020
Facial recognition interest, use and fear is increasing. This guide aims to...
Anyvision Layoffs on Mar 19, 2020
Anyvision has conducted a layoff, citing the impact of coronavirus, joining a...
Surveillance Storage 101 on Mar 23, 2020
This guide teaches the fundamentals of video surveillance...
Hanwha Wisenet X Plus PTRZ Tested on Feb 14, 2020
Hanwha has released their PTRZ camera, the Wisenet X Plus XNV-6081Z, claiming...
Dynamic vs Static IP Addresses Tutorial on Apr 16, 2020
While many cameras default to DHCP out of the box, that does not mean you...

Recent Reports

Huawei HiSilicon Shortage Impacts Surveillance Manufacturers on Aug 14, 2020
Huawei acknowledged problems and challenges for its HiSilicon chip business,...
Final Rule Does Not Expand Hikvision Dahua Blacklist on Aug 14, 2020
The final White House rule (200.216) has been added and contrary to the...
Taiwan Lilin NDAA Compliant Cameras Tested on Aug 13, 2020
Taiwan-based manufacturer Lilin is taking direct aim at Dahua and Hikvision...
White House Expands Dahua Hikvision Blacklist To Federal Funding [Final Rule Reverses] on Aug 13, 2020
The White House is expanding the NDAA to blacklist anyone who "uses" banned...
Actual Coronavirus Testing Options Examined on Aug 13, 2020
Fever cameras have emerged as an indirect and flawed way to test for...
Video Analytics Online Show September 2020 Opened - Axis, Avigilon, Bosch, BriefCam, Genetec, Milestone + 30 More on Aug 12, 2020
IPVM's sixth online show will feature 35+ Video Analytics companies...
The German Company Powering Many China Temperature Tablets (Heimann) on Aug 12, 2020
Many fever tablet suppliers market German-made Heimann thermal sensors while...
Salesforce Drops Dahua and Hikvision on Aug 12, 2020
Salesforce has dropped Dahua and Hikvision as customers, forcing the two mega...
Access Control Course Fall 2020 - Register Now on Aug 12, 2020
IPVM offers the most comprehensive access control course in the industry....
Genetec CEO Declares "We Don't Negotiate Payment With Patent Trolls" on Aug 11, 2020
Are patent trolls like terrorists? Genetec's CEO is coming out strongly...
Hanwha AI Analytics Camera Tested on Aug 11, 2020
Hanwha has released their Wisenet P AI camera, adding person and vehicle...
Alabama Schools Million Dollar Hikvision Fever Camera Deal on Aug 11, 2020
The Baldwin County, Alabama public schools purchased a $1 million, 144-camera...
Dahua Taunts Australian Government, Continues To Sell Illegal Fever Cameras on Aug 10, 2020
Dahua is effectively taunting the Australian government by continuing to sell...
HID Releases VertX Replacement Aero on Aug 10, 2020
HID is replacing two established and broadly supported types of access...
NDAA Compliant Video Surveillance Whitelist on Aug 10, 2020
This report aggregates video surveillance products that manufacturers have...