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.
Why do I need to log in?
IPVM conducts unique testing and research funded by member's payments enabling us to offer the most independent, accurate and in-depth information.

Related Reports

Average Frame Rate Video Surveillance 2019 on May 23, 2019
What is the average frame rated used in video surveillance systems? In IPVM's 2011 statistics, the average was 6-8fps increasing to ~10fps in...
Access Control Job Walk Guide on May 22, 2019
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...
ASCMA / Monitronics Declares Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Plan on May 22, 2019
Monitronics is entering into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company, also called Ascent Capital Group Inc., aka ASCMA, aka Brinks Home Security,...
Axis ~$150 Outdoor Camera Tested on May 21, 2019
Axis has released the latest in their Companion camera line, the outdoor Companion Dome Mini LE, a 1080p integrated IR model aiming to compete with...
LifeSafety Power NetLink Vulnerabilities And Problematic Response on May 20, 2019
'Power supplies' are not devices that many think about when considering vulnerabilities but as more and more devices go 'online', the risks for...
Maglock Selection Guide on May 16, 2019
One of the most misunderstood yet valuable pieces of electrified hardware is the maglock. Few locks are stronger, but myths and confusion surround...
Panasonic 32MP Multi Imager Camera Tested (WV-X8570N) on May 16, 2019
Panasonic has released their first multi imager models including the 32MP (4x4K) WV-X8570N, claiming "Extreme image quality for evidence capturing...
Bank Security Manager Interview on May 15, 2019
Bank security contends with many significant threats - from fraudsters to robbers and more. In this interview, IPVM spoke with bank security...
Milestone XProtect 2019 R1 Tested on May 15, 2019
For the past few years, Milestone has released quarterly software updates XProtect VMS platform. What is new and how much impact do the updates...
China PRC Government New National Video Surveillance Standards on May 14, 2019
The People's Republic of China (PRC) government has released a new set of overarching standards for authorities to follow when they install video...

Most Recent Industry Reports

NJ Law Requires Apprenticeship For Public Works Integrators on May 24, 2019
Few integrators do a formal apprenticeship program. However, now a NJ law is requiring any integrator on public works projects (such as state...
Security / Privacy Journalist Sam Pfeifle Interview on May 24, 2019
Sam Pfeifle is best known as the outspoken former Editor of Security Systems News. After that, he was publications director at the International...
Verkada Video Quality Problems Tested on May 23, 2019
Verkada suffers from numerous video quality problems, not found in commercial IP cameras, new IPVM testing of Verkada vs Axis and Hikvision...
Average Frame Rate Video Surveillance 2019 on May 23, 2019
What is the average frame rated used in video surveillance systems? In IPVM's 2011 statistics, the average was 6-8fps increasing to ~10fps in...
Access Control Job Walk Guide on May 22, 2019
Significant money can be saved and problems avoided with an access control job walk if you know what to look for and what to ask. By inviting...
ASCMA / Monitronics Declares Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Plan on May 22, 2019
Monitronics is entering into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company, also called Ascent Capital Group Inc., aka ASCMA, aka Brinks Home Security,...
US Considers Sanctions Against Hikvision and Dahua on May 22, 2019
The US government is considering blacklisting "up to 5" PRC surveillance firms, including Hikvision and Dahua, Bloomberg reported, with human...
Dahua USA Celebrates 5 Years of Errors on May 21, 2019
Dahua USA is, in their own words, 'celebrating' 5 years in North America or as trade magazine SSN declared: Dahua Technology finds success in...
Axis ~$150 Outdoor Camera Tested on May 21, 2019
Axis has released the latest in their Companion camera line, the outdoor Companion Dome Mini LE, a 1080p integrated IR model aiming to compete with...
Covert Facial Recognition Using Axis and Amazon By NYTimes on May 20, 2019
What if you took a 33MP Axis camera covering one of the busiest parks in the US and ran Amazon Facial Recognition against it? That is what the...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact