Genetec Expels Hikvision

Author: John Honovich, Published on Nov 08, 2016

Genetec has removed support for Hikvision devices, deeming them 'untrustworthy', citing customer concerns about Chinese government ownership / control.

While manufacturers infrequently remove support for competitive reasons, doing it for cyber security is unprecedented in video surveillance.

We spoke with Genetec to understand their rationale and implementation. Inside, we review that, looking at the risks both to Hikvision and Genetec as well as the overall market impact.

Key Details

Genetec has removed support for Hikvision, Hikvision OEMs (e.g., UTC Interlogix) and Huawei, effective immediately. This includes both direct driver support and ONVIF. ONVIF connections for those products will be denied by Genetec's software.

Customers that want to use those devices will have to obtain a special license with an extra charge ($250 per device), and grant a waiver releasing Genetec of all liability in the event that the customer or third party organizations are hacked through the use of such devices, or if the Genetec software is caused to malfunction. Hikvision itself has a disclaimer rejecting responsibility if their devices are hacked.

Customers that already use these devices (which Genetec described as 'vanishingly small') will need that special license / waiver to continue to do so when they next upgrade but will not be charged.

UPDATE - Moved to New 'Restricted' Category

Hikvision and Huawei have been moved into a newly created 'restricted' category on Genetec's support list. The details remain the same, a waiver is need and a special license connection, but the devices now are labelled 'restricted':

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Comments (226)

I agree that live view is "easy" after the client is configured properly, but playback in any of their clients is far from easy. Not as easy as something like DW Spectrum or even Avigilon.

Hikvision is "easy" to view live and recorded video?

Why all the Hate To Hikviosion ? i have probably 2000+ hik cameras working without a problem with have of cost of axis , some customers dont need all the options and fancy stuff , what they need is easy system for live view and playback thats all ..

Can't help but feel you're missing the point.

I wonder if Trumps friendly relationship and business dealing with the Chinese gov will soften the hard stance against Chinese made products being specified for US gov installs?

NOTICE: This comment has been moved to its own discussion: Will Trump Soften The Hard Stance Against Chinese Made Products Being Specified For US Gov Installs?

Of course they will use their own brand - just as the nsa used american-manufactured routers to install back doors into.

Any product that involves cyber security that is owned or controlled by a foreign government entity must be assumed to be non-secure. Otherwise you are just kidding yourself.

China is a leading source of intellectual property theft and why would a security integrator want to introduce the potential of a corporate client being penetrated through integrator- supplied security gear. To save 50 bucks? Is it worth the risks posed?

Do you really think they would be stupid enough to use an obvious brand ?

Surely, if that was their plan they would buy into an American brand and do it from a more trusted source ???

This all seems like paranoia to me.

Possibly for the extra liability insurance and PR repair work in case something goes pretty bad.

...Genetec unsurprisingly wants to protect themselves from being implicated into any potential Chinese state-sponsored penetration.

Unless you pay them $250.

Exactly - It is not the generic threat of hacking Genetec appears to be concerned about - it is more specifically the Chinese government using their captive company Hikvision as a door into networks , particularly US government networks, which are a large part of Genetec's customer base and Genetec unsurprisingly wants to protect themselves from being implicated into any potential Chinese state-sponsored penetration

Who loses the most from this, Hik or Genetec?

Maybe we could start with the average cost of a Hik camera vs the average cost of a Genetec license.

I'm thinking the camera is cheaper, not sure.

So if half of the potential "Hik on Genetec" customers drop Hik because of the additional Genetec Surcharge and the other half drop Genetec, then in pure dollars Genetec comes out with a greater revenue loss.

Of course on a % revenue basis, the % Genetec loss is far greater.

Super simplistic, but certainly some deals will go to Genetec and others go to Hik. Also, this ignore any loss of Hik goodwill or domino effect, if others follow suit.

NOTICE: This comment has been moved to its own discussion: Who Loses The Most From This, Hikvision Or Genetec?

With cheap labor...

Good point.

Its not fair to us that Chinese workers will accept a lower standard of living than U.S. workers. Force them to lead a life of luxury for a decade or so and we'll see how competitive their wages are then.

In 2014, I dare say that most network NVR/DVR and cameras were shipped with a default password.

So how is Hik more negligent than the others with the same practices at that time?

Well we might have a slight difference of opinion here. How do you call it if someone who is not supposed to installs malicious software on to someone else's devices.

I still would call it a hack or at least a security breach. Neigtherway should be possible.

YES. With cheap labor and currency manipulation. Did you heard that before? Capish!!!

And don't forget that they where also hacked and used for Bitcoin mining (NVR's and DVR's).

They weren't 'hacked'.

Integrators and end-users failed to change the default credentials.

Exactly! That is the point. How many companies in the private sector have the support, or are owned, by the second largest economy in the world? I'm quite sure the brand name companies would had kicked their butts long time ago. Is not fair competition, plain and simple. Capish!!

So in all the other manufacturing sectors, besides video surveillance, where China is also 'kicking our butts', is that because the state is subsidizing those industries as well?

Capex!!

And don't forget that they where also hacked and used for Bitcoin mining (NVR's and DVR's)

Exactly! That is the point. How many companies in the private sector have the support, or are owned, by the second largest economy in the world? I'm quite sure the brand name companies would had kicked their butts long time ago. Is not fair competition, plain and simple. Capish!!

Restricted: Requires restricted camera connection part number because of increased cyber risk factors.

If they are going to use increased cyber risk factors as the reason why they are omitting support for Hikvision, why not Dahua, Axis, and Sony? If it is due to the Chinese gov link, then say so. Why the double speak?

Jon, you still cannot understand that their stated reason is Chinese government control, not individual issues?

You have made your point on this repeatedly in the thread. We are at 205 comments. I'd ask you not to repeat it unless you have new information or criticisms to share.

Did I miss a memo? Are Dahua, Axis, or Sony now owned by a government?

Still no addition of Dahua, Axis, or Sony tho....?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Update: Hikvision and Huawei have been moved into a newly created 'restricted' category on Genetec's support list. The details remain the same, a waiver is need and a special license connection, but the devices now are labelled 'restricted':

These are interesting ideas but I think they would be very hard to push through.

I'm obviously not an international trade expert but I would presume that it's much easier for a country to control its defense exports than preventing imports of security-related products - even when there is a credible threat to its IT infrastructure.

The reason ITAR is enforceable is that US-based military contractors depend largely from the DoD funding. ITAR-restricted products simply wouldn't exist without DoD grants and contracts. US military contractors would never risk being barred from future contracts. Other countries don't really mind if the US exporters export less - on the contrary, it provides a chance for non-US exporters to export more.

In contrast, if the US were to block imports of some products from China, they would face internal pressure from consumers as well as from WTO, etc.

It's one thing for China to face criticisms from Trump over twitter, and another entirely to let their exports be blocked. I bet there are lots of US-based organizations influenced by China's big money that would pull strings if Trump actually tries to implement some of his promised protectionist policies.

Christian, that's very interesting.

Your posting made me think of an interesting fact that the International Traffic in Arms Regulations ("ITAR") restricts the export to certain countries of a number of items including information and software that are primarily commercial in nature but also have potential military applications. Specifically noted on the Commerce Control List under ITAR are computers. However, these items are allowed for import from ITAR prohibited countries.

The purpose of ITAR is to prevent items from being shipped to specific countries (including China) that may use such restricted items against the U.S. Given the threat of cyber warfare and terrorism, perhaps the U.S. should consider restricting the import of these same items from these same countries as they can also be used against the U.S. within our borders. While much has been said about the difference between China and North Korea, they are both ITAR prohibited countries. Further, we have verified evidence that China has a cyber warfare unit engaged in attacks on the U.S.

Now, I'm all for global trade but, the fact is China is, in effect at war with the U.S...perhaps much like the UAE would consider themselves at defacto war with Israel.

While my first concern is that the Chinese government's support of HikiVision is unfairly driving the market lower, let's not be so naïve as to think the Chinese do not want to harm the U.S.

If ITAR were to be applied to imports and exports, HikiVision (and many other countries) would not be allowed to ship computers and peripherals or any other items that could have military applications to the U.S. It is not a stretch to suggest that IP cameras would be included in this restriction.

The following are ITAR prohibited countries:

Afghanistan, Belarus, Central African Republic, Cuba, Cyprus, Eritrea, Fiji, Iran, Iraq, Cote d'Ivoire, Lebanon, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Vietnam, Myanmar, CHINA, Haiti, Liberia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Republic of the Sudan (Northern Sudan), Yemen, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Best,

David Coughlin

Every UAE, Qatar and Bahrain project we bid on explicitly forbid Chinese products. China and Israel-manufactured products are typically excluded from large projects over there.

Perfect questions at the end. Us is depends on China very much. Much more than a n avarage patriot can expect. So if China will abn out US products, or simply not manufactures on as low cost as nowdays... US and the rest of the world will start crying. Crying a lot.

OK, then why in the movie "2012", all US politicians and rich guys stepped on the Noah's Arks built by China in order to be rescued?

You may argue it's fictional, but China is one of US's major partner, but not enemy. The real enemy to US is ISIS, North Korea, and crazy dictators that hold bombs.

China has huge trade with US, it is also the biggest customer of iPhone, Boeing airplanes, Smartphone processors, and also is the biggest American Treasury bond foreign holder, why it turns out to be enemy?

$250 for each new Hikvision camera added to a Genetec system, with the money to go towards integration and support?

4,000 cameras = 1 million dollars.

Ironically, Hikvision cameras on Genetec may end up having the most robust integration and support of any other camera manufacturer.

You had mentioned you believed that only ONVIF integration would be supported, have they comfirmed this?

Update from a Genetec email, no charge for Hikvision/Huawei cameras already connected to Genetec systems, an additional $250 per device for new connections:

You may have heard about changes we recently made to our Supported Devices List (SDL). Genetec has designated certain devices (including those manufactured or white-labelled by Hikvision and Huawei) as having increased cyber risk factors and requiring special handling procedures in our R&D facilities. Our customers, consultants, partners and technical publications are worried about these risk factors. And we are worried by these risk factors, too.

Genetec will continue to support these devices, but will pass along the costs and risks of integrating and supporting this equipment to end-users.

  • Customers who already own a Genetec system containing such devices will need to agree to a waiver when renewing their Genetec Advantage Agreement (there is no additional charge).
  • Customers who are buying a new system (or adding new connections to an existing system) will need to agree to the waiver, and purchase the special connection license at a fee of 250$ USD MSRP per connection in addition to the usual connection fee.

When will genetec officially confirm this i cant find any info from anyone

Tye,

Genetec has officially confirmed this, both prior to us releasing this and in comments to this article.

As for information from anyone else, I do not know how Genetec is handling their communications. I recommend you contact their local representative.

When will genetec officially confirm this i cant find any info from anyone

Ok I sat down, and wait for the announcement about dropping axis,dahua,hisilicon, (thanks Murat), dropping Chinese switch manufacturers, or any device manufactured in China because of the above mentioned things.

But for start I'm okay only with axis and dahua.

Huawei also ? We need to inform Genetec, that most of cameras has HiSilicon chip inside and Huawei is HiSilicon's mother company.

let's talk about how many other device will be dropped by Genetec due to vulnerability issues?

Consistency is one of the most remarkable measure of a company.

Genetec says they dropped Hikvision and Huawei due to Chinese government control concerns. As such, they have been 'consistent' in their approach since those are the two companies with video surveillance products widely viewed as being controlled by the Chinese government.

You can think they are wrong in doing so but they are not suffering from any 'consistency' issues.

John? Who told I disagree?

It is their business decision. I told, that I'm surprised that 70% of people think it will have an impact.

You can agree or not with this statement, but let's talk about a year later about this, and let's talk about how many other device will be dropped by Genetec due to vulnerability issues?

Consistency is one of the most remarkable measure of a company.

But the security industry started to be much more an "everyone knows" industry, and enthusiasts (professionals who really care) are a really few.

The post has 15,000 reads in a week, 180+ likes on LinkedIn, it's forced Hikvision to issue a formal response letter, etc. If that is what you consider 'really few', so be it.

But to cut the long story short, time will tell. I don't expect that hikvision will be 2nd or 5th next year because of this message.

Well Hikvision's revenue was ~$3 billion more than #2 Dahua's, so yes Hikvision's revenue will not fall $3 billion because of this. And since 75% of that revenue is from China, I doubt anyone in China will choose not to business with Hikvision because Genetec says they are insecure.

So impact is zero.

Saying that Hikvision's revenue will not fall $3 billion, which is what you are implying with your claim, does not equal no impact.

You are conflating your disagreement with Genetec's decision here with whether or not people care or that it will have an impact among others.

Security now is not just about the camera, NVR. It's about the switch, router, firewall, network monitoring, traffic monitoring, not to mention all.

Agreeing 100%. True the camera must be secure but in this increasingly IOTified world (Internet Of Things), Cyber Security can no longer be an afterthought and it is becoming more and more our responsibility we, the integrators to insure the security of the networks we connect to the Internet. This can be seen as either an opportunity or one additional threat and burden. IMHO it is both: With price of cameras plunging to the abysses (thanks in large part to Hik) and hardware price in general following the same trend, we are left with the real but serious and challenging opportunity of providing Security to the .. Video Security systems to boost our revenues and restore our margins to healthier levels. Not a given, not easy but the potential windfalls are quite interesting IMO and IME.

Sorry John, we are a very few.

Exactly you caught it, the audience is very important in this site, and also worldwide within security enthusiasts, I think they/we are the few people in the room. This is the reason it's one of the hottest topic.

But the security industry started to be much more an "everyone knows" industry, and enthusiasts (professionals who really care) are a really few.

But to cut the long story short, time will tell. I don't expect that hikvision will be 2nd or 5th next year because of this message. They might be the first in unit sales and in revenue as well. Business is about numbers we all know this fact well. So impact is zero. That is what I wanted to mention with all respect to your way of thinking.

On the other hand if Gentec is consistent, will remove also Axis support, as they were vulnerable for 8 years, and many times/ways as well, any company whi were/is vulnerable, etc.

Some month ago I mentioned, till almost all companies are manufacturing in China, who knows there is no any additional chip, or any HW based solution, which can make the camera vulnerable on a remote command? Who checks all the chips with hidden parts inside? Nobody. So till SW hacks can be "easily" checked with ethical hacking, or our internal networks can be easily monitored where they stream what, it's quiet easy to be on the safe side.

That is my concern, and don't care about the manufacturers owner till I can protect my network.

Security now is not just about the camera, NVR. It's about the switch, router, firewall, network monitoring, traffic monitoring, not to mention all.

Genetec sending out this "message" to an almost empty room

No. The attention this topic is getting is extreme. We track stats carefully on every topic we cover and this Genetec / Hikvision one is in the top 1% of all topics.

As for people 'not concerning Hikvision as a PRO manufacturer', I am sure there are many people who are not concerned. But with 720+ votes, 72% of members say Hikvision devices are untrustworthy. That's pretty sizeable. I do suspect that some of this breaks down by region (e.g., people in the US are much more concerned than people in Hungary).

John, I agree with you in many points, but as above.

Size not comparable. Market not comparable.

Genetec sending out this "message" to an almost empty room, "people" in this roome still not concerning Hikvision as a PRO manufacturer, so the message is lost. But at least inappropiate.

There are hundredth of Genetec like solutions worldwide

No. To get to 'hundreds', you would have to use the very general category of video management software / recorders, i.e., Blue Iris, Dahua NVRs, Nestcam, NUUO, ZoneMinder, etc.

Genetec is really more of a command and control offering, with their own video, access and PSIM all in one, internally developed. For most users, this is overkill and irrelevant but for mega customers, Genetec is one of the top choices among very few real options.

But, as for why people think Hikvision will lose, I suspect it is more about the signaling effect than direct sales from Genetec, i.e., Genetec is sending out a negative message about Hikvision that could hurt other sales.

That said, as I have noted in other places in this thread, Genetec definitely has risk, especially if Hikvision continues to move up market. Hikvision could make life very difficult for Genetec in that scenario.

Is it much of a step up from 4200?

You can't seriously be comparing a one off exploit that was easily blocked with security features to Hikvision numerous hacks?

No you cannot seriously compare them.

Did you know that for 8 years virtually every Axis camera in the world contained a vulnerability which could have been exploited, as long as the camera was accessible either by LAN or WAN, to take complete control of the box?

  • 8 years
  • Nearly every Axis device on the internet
  • Full control

Hik had two vulnerabilities that I'm aware of. The first was a buffer overflow exploit in some NVR's open source RTSP code. It was patched long ago.

The second was when they released an ios app built with hacked tools. They pulled it as soon as it was discovered.

John, when a system is vulnerable, and can be hacked with skills, is it important who owns the manufacturer? What if Axis is controlled by Illuminati (LOL)? Who knows?

It is interesting that 61% of IPVM readers thinks that Hikvision will lose something with this move.

1: Genetec size is not comperative with Hikvision

2: Genetec aims for a different market segment

3: There are hundredth of Genetec like solutions worldwide

4: The low to mid market segment is significantly larger than the pro

So who will lose and what?

who sent out the memo we trust Genetec?

Just because customers sign waivers doesn't preclude lawsuits from third parties...

Sure, but what would the lawsuit even allege?

"Genetec connected to a camera they told me not to buy. This camera later participated in a DDOS attack on a third party, that was unrelated to Genetec in any way."

"Still Genetec was negligent by connecting to this camera, which gave me the sense that it must be trustsorthy, and so over their objections, I purchased one, to my regret."

IMHO, they have more liability from someone slipping in the lobby.

Andy, I'm calling BS on your claim of "550+ scientists and engineers" as your website claims just over 600 total employees. Grandiose claims like this may lead others to question the veracity of Genetec's other claims.

Also, there are other reasons beyond security to isolate IP video traffic on its own network (physical or virtual). One is that it allows for network traffic to be contained so that it doesn't impact other network traffic.

Nevertheless, I do agree with your premise that there are additional costs for HikVision based upon their history, marketing methods, and company ownership.

On a side note, I'm not a fan of HikVision because I believe the overall marketing of their products cheapens our industry, and the company is able to do this due to government subsidies and a low paid workforce. Then again (and perhaps directly opposed to this bottom feeding mindset), I've also found Genetec to be overly arrogant...Case in point, you made me look up "antithetical."

Cheers,

David Coughlin

Director, Security Sales & Operations

ENE Systems

The extra charge for HikVision is likely to support administrative costs and to hedge against legal fees/exposure. Just because customers sign waivers doesn't preclude lawsuits from third parties...and even by the customers who signed the waivers.

"They don't want to cooperate with open platform software in China, because they believe that their software is the best. "

Well every VMS maker thinks (or says) they are the best. But how much competition do they really have? Seriously, how does the VMS choice landscape look in China- meaning how many big names can one say they have, domestic and foreign?

(-Signed......... hold on, have to find my driver's license......;)

That's a lot of rolls of change in profit to deposit.

No, definitely not billions. I don't boast about laughing all the way to the bank.

Marty I think you're missing the economies of scale, and the relative comparison of the to the rest of the technology world. Have you looked at the base+client licensing fees for things like Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange, Quickbooks, SAP, Oracle or any other client-server based software solutions? It's not really much different. Per seat versus per user licensing, per CPU core, license renewal and ongoing.

And they have exceptionally higher volume of sales versus the pitiful few million the security world does, their R&D dollars go a lot farther. When I used to work in IT for a newspaper, initially it amazed me the amount of money we had to pay for software that seemed to do simpler tasks than mainstream software, and clunky at that. But then I thought about it, this was specialized software only a small market client would need, so the development dollars had to be recompensed over a much smaller sales volume.

I don't think VMS companies have it very easy. At least no where near as lucrative and being C-Level at Microsoft or Oracle.

Axis is not owned by a enemy!

China is a enemy of the United States, eh?

Like North Korea or Iran?

Why, because they're not a democracy?

I believe we shouldn't give one red cent (npi), to our true enemies.

Do you?

Important to take into account that Hik have already big experience in software development. In China market they are kind of Avigilon, providing complete systems for any projects. They don't want to cooperate with open platform software in China, because they believe that their software is the best. They understand that hardware is commodity and to differentiate themselves in future they need strong software (and this is a threat for Genetec). But truth is that they still need to work hard to make their software acceptable outside China. Very interesting to see IPVM's report about current state of Hik's software.

Hik' has its own serious looking iVMS 5200

Frantz, can you elaborate about what is 'serious looking' about its iVMS 5200? We are genuinely trying to understand what is so special about it. From their online descriptions and our testing to date, it seems to add a handful of mid-level functions (like software based recording, some 3rd party camera support, LPR, etc.). What major other things does the iVMS 5200 have?

Hi

  • Not so simple when you have to re-trained your techs and get them to be fluent in the new VMS.
  • Not evident who's going to beat the cost of the conversion to the new licenses. You can't just dump the old licenses and have them replaced by the new VMS.
  • Training the customers to perform their usual task through a new GUI, far from evident and potentially costly sometimes the customer will oppose the move.

3 out of many other reasons that would make it difficult to jump to another VMS.

I think Genetech is painting itself in a corner. That kind of political (?) statement may not play too well in this increasingly interdependent world. That is what I alluded to when I posted about the irony of using Chinese made wares to take a position against a Chinese company. They (Gen) better not use an Apple phone or even a Cisco phone in their HQ or make sure the routers and Ethernet switches they use in their network is not made in China ...same for many of those agreeing with Genetech position happily typing it on their Chinese-made keyboards, PCs, home routers ... The position of denying one particular Chinese company may have on the surface some semblance of High Ground but it is quixotic ..

We must in passing remind those in IT and now in Video Surveillance that a few years ago Microsoft software were very porous ( I am being charitable) in term of security... That didn't stop Microsoft from having close to 90% of the WOrld market in PC OS and perhaps in application too.

On another front John mentioned that Hik revenues are 75% from their Home country fine but that still leaves $1 Billion from everywhere else. That is still several times the revenues of Genetech.

Meanwhile Hik' has its own serious looking iVMS 5200 and its price would make many VMS makers, lose some sleep and worse.

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