Hikvision HQ Contradicts Cybersecurity Director

Author: John Honovich, Published on Mar 07, 2018

Hikvision HQ has contradicted Hikvision USA's Director of Cybersecurity, Chuck Davis.

Davis - Don't Put Cameras On The Internet

Davis made a very good point in a recent SP&T interview:

according to Davis: “Putting a camera directly on the Internet is not a good idea. I don’t care whose camera it is.”

And Hikvision knows about bad ideas. The combination of their IP camera backdoor, their defaulting UPnP on for years and regularly recommending port forwarding, including in their hardening guide, resulted in widespread hacking of Hikvision IP cameras.

So it is refreshing and commendable that Davis would publicly come out against the practice of putting cameras directly on the Internet.

HQ - Do Put Cameras On The Internet

Unfortunately, Hikvision HQ does not care. Their, new for 2018, 'Network Camera Security Guide' still endorses putting cameras directly on the Internet.

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

The port forwarding section:

The problems are: (1) any open port is a path to being attacked. (2) The strength of the password is irrelevant when a vulnerability is found since, like the Hikvision backdoor, vulnerabilities regularly allow getting admin access without a password. (3) Finally, using a custom port is a weak security by obscurity tactic which, given the ability to scan the Internet (e.g., Shodan), can be overcome.

Reduce Support Costs - Why Put Devices On The Internet

Why Hikvision recommends this is simple. It is the same reason why Hikvision USA tech support regularly tells users reporting problems to port forward and why Hikvision's own app at the end of last year told users to port forward. It is expensive and difficult to make secure remote access work well and, given how low Hikvision sells its products for and how many challenges Hikvision has had developing HikConnect, security loses out to expediency.

Give Davis Real Power

Hikvision needs to give Chuck Davis real power to make changes. If Hikvision HQ is really committed to cybersecurity, stop treating Davis like a white monkey, parading him around, and prove to critics that Hikvision is serious about cybersecurity by letting Davis implement sensible and secure policies.

2 reports cite this report:

2018 Mid-Year Surveillance Industry Guide on Jun 28, 2018
2018 has been an explosive year for the video surveillance industry, with the industry becoming a global political issue, with the expansion of...
P2P 'Fail To' 'Quick And Steady Access' - Hikvision Defends Port Forwarding on Apr 02, 2018
Following criticism of Hikvision's ongoing port forwarding recommendation (e.g., Hikvision Hardening Guide Recommends Port Forwarding and Hikvision...

Comments (16)

Only IPVM PRO Members may comment. Login or Join.

Port forwarding is bad practise, but I frankly think the 'cloud solution' is worse...

I would recommend to setup and use own VPN, that would not involve any cloud 'solution' from the manufacture.

I tend to agree with you in terms of Hikvision and Dahua, but are you saying we shouldn't trust ANY cloud based options? My concern is specifically with Network Optix / DW Spectrum / Hanwha Wave.

Correct, do not trust ANY, and don't get caught on Hik and/or Dahua alone.

There is already examples 'out there' why you should not, and I will personally give you additional examples.

Bashis, thanks for the feedback.

Port forwarding is bad practise, but I frankly think the 'cloud solution' is worse...

To clarify, my reference to cloud was not to endorse it but to emphasize that despite Hikvision having a 'cloud solution' that they still regularly tell users to port forward, which is both bad practice and embarrassing.

I call this a Hydra Management Policy. HMP occurs when different portions of the company are contradicting each other and heading in different directions. It is not a Hikvision exclusive phenomenon. Hikvision just seems to be one of the few companies that refuse to acknowledge and address the failing.

Unfortunately, with limited financial impact to Hikvision it is unlikely to get addressed. I still see entire forums on integrators on Facebook where one would think Hik and their OEMs is the only product being deployed into the world. I am not entirely certain what it would take for DIY and small integrators to break their addiction to low cost.

according to Davis: “Putting a camera directly on the Internet is not a good idea. I don’t care whose camera it is.”

Why does he say camera, though?

It would seem he either

1) hasn’t considered NVR’s

2) thinks that cameras are different than NVR’s

3) is being sloppy in his use of terms and means to refer to any device

#2, it is a good question. Considering an NVR is literally a collection of camera feeds plus recordings, the same logic should apply at least as strong, if not more.

Davis' position on that is unclear and he is banned from speaking to IPVM so it is unlikely we will find out. Related, Dear Hikvision's Chuck Davis, What Is The ONVIF Security Problem?

In my opinion, I think the excerpt from the Hikvision security guide does not amount to putting a device on the Internet, it advises that if you have to make a device accessible, that you should use port forwarding. Mr Davis' suggestion also applies, don't put anything on the Internet without some type of firewall device in front of it, basically, it must have an IFC1918 based private address.

Port forwarding will allow access to devices through controlled ports, whether or not these ports are properly secured is a different story, putting a device directly on the Internet gives wide open access to anybody to every port that is listening on the device.

I am in total agreement that the ideal way to access these devices on the Internet would be through a VPN, but given the complexity and expense of setting these up and maintaining them, do you really think it's a solution for the targeted market of the chinese manufacturers? When the guy at the local convenient store asks to have a 4-camera surveillance system set up that he can access from home, do you think he's going to go in for all of this? Is there an installer market for being able to install, configure and maintain this type of setup for the entry-level consumer?

Until there is a consumer-friendly VPN solution that is free and simple to set up and maintain then this will always be a problem.

I think the excerpt from the Hikvision security guide does not amount to putting a device on the Internet, it advises that if you have to make a device accessible, that you should use port forwarding [emphasis added]

In what cases do you have to? As you say, it is less a matter of having to and more a matter of it being cheaper to do so.

In this day and age who can say why people want every single one of their devices to be accessible from the public Internet? But sure enough, as soon as you say that no one would ever want to do this, there will be 5 people raising a stink because you didn't make it available for them.

why people want every single one of their devices to be accessible from the public Internet

People want their devices to be accessible to themselves, not the public Internet. Vendors, like Hikvision, tell them to make it accessible to the public Internet because it is the cheapest and easiest path to accomplishing this, even though it is less secure.

Agreed, they want something to be available to only themselves but over a public medium, the Internet. It goes back to my statement above, it can be done but would it be available at an acceptable price point?

would it be available at an acceptable price point?

Security or convenience. Pick one. Hikvision says they have picked security. For example:

“Cyber security is Hikvision’s top priority,” said Jeffrey He, president of Hikvision USA Inc. and Hikvision Canada Inc.

It that is Hikvision's top priority than they should be willing to accept the higher cost of providing it.

Playing devils advocate here, but access doesn’t solely mean from the internet. It could mean access from a corporate network perhaps. In this rare instance, both sets of advice mesh (pun intended).

What do other manufacturers say about accessing the devices from outside? Do they suggest VPN, port forwarding or they just ignore this question?

I understand why we see this article (haven't seen any "Hikvision is evil" for a long time, maybe 2 weeks). But just curious to know what the big guys like Avigilon, Axis, Hanwa suggest.

What the undisclosed distrib said above is true. VPN is a great idea for security. However, walking to work instead of driving to work is a great way to avoid a car accident. Convenience or security?

What my extreme example points out that its completely not feasible to recommend all the millions of Hikvision users to setup and use a VPN. Unless they can find a way to do this with one click of a button from their cell phone app, this isn't going to work and really isn't a great suggestion. Your security suggestions are great, but you also have to understand the business side of things.

I will agree on one thing though, the recommendation of port forwarding also needs to stop. Port Forwarding is so "2015 and before" This is probably more complicated to the typical end user than setting up a VPN would be.

What needs to happen is the continual development of the P2P servers with intense focus on making them secure and reliable. This is how most all IoT devices operate these days.

Related Reports

Outdoor Camera Mounting Hardware Guide on Feb 21, 2019
Mounting cameras outdoors can be challenging, requiring understanding different types of equipment and methods. In this guide, we teach this...
Security Installation Tools Guide - 22 Tools Listed on Feb 19, 2019
In this guide, we cover 22 tools that security installers frequently use. This is one part of our upcoming Video Surveillance...
Bandwidth vs Low Light Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Geovision, Hanwha, Hikvision, Uniview, Vivotek on Feb 08, 2019
Nighttime bandwidth spikes are a major concern in video surveillance, but do all manufacturers' cameras perform the same? Are some more consistent...
Designing Access Control Guide on Jan 30, 2019
Designing an access control solution requires decisions on 8 fundamental questions. This in-depth guide helps you understand the options and...
Access Control Turnstiles Guide on Jan 28, 2019
Turnstiles control pedestrian access to secured areas, essentially becoming moving portions of fences, walls, or barricades for physically stop...
Testing Bandwidth vs. Frame Rate on Jan 23, 2019
Selecting frame rate has a major impact on surveillance bandwidth and storage consumption. But with smart codecs now common and cameras more...
Mobile Surveillance Trailers Guide on Jan 17, 2019
Putting cameras in a place for temporary surveillance where power and communications are not readily available can be complicated and expensive....
Testing Bandwidth Vs. Low Light on Jan 16, 2019
Nighttime bandwidth spikes are a major concern in video surveillance. Many calculate bandwidth as a single 24/7 number, but bit rates vary...
Access Control Records Maintenance Guide on Jan 16, 2019
Weeding out old entries, turning off unused credentials, and updating who carries which credentials is as important as to maintaining security as...
Spring 2019 IP Networking Course on Jan 10, 2019
You can register for the Spring 2019 IP Networking course here. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance...

Most Recent Industry Reports

From The Basement To Buried Behind Chinatown: ISC West Emerging Technology Zone on Feb 22, 2019
What does ISC West think about 'Emerging Technology'? Well, last year, they put those companies in the basement. This year, they moved them up to...
Private School IT Manager Surveillance Interview on Feb 22, 2019
This IT manager describes himself as the "oft-maligned IT person" whose "opinions may not always be appreciated by the integrator crowd." But he is...
Outdoor Camera Mounting Hardware Guide on Feb 21, 2019
Mounting cameras outdoors can be challenging, requiring understanding different types of equipment and methods. In this guide, we teach this...
HID Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 21, 2019
HID favorability results were strong, in the 2019 IPVM integrator study of 200+ integrators, with a net +62% and low negativity as the table below...
First US State, Vermont, Bans Dahua and Hikvision on Feb 21, 2019
The first US state, Vermont, has issued a ban on a number of Chinese and Russian manufacturers including the world's 2 largest video surveillance...
ADI 'SAVE BIG' On FLIR And Hikvision Examined on Feb 20, 2019
One is a major US defense supplier. The other is owned by the Chinese government. But you can "SAVE BIG" on both at ADI. In this note, we...
BluB0x Company Profile on Feb 20, 2019
BluB0x has doubled in revenue every year since its founding in 2013, according to CEO Patrick Barry. We originally reported on them in 2015. At the...
Massive Leak Of Chinese VMS Provider Exposes Xinjiang Surveillance on Feb 20, 2019
A subsidiary of China’s claimed largest VMS provider is tracking the precise location and ethnicity of millions in China’s Xinjiang region,...
Security Installation Tools Guide - 22 Tools Listed on Feb 19, 2019
In this guide, we cover 22 tools that security installers frequently use. This is one part of our upcoming Video Surveillance...
Sales Cuts At Rasilient on Feb 19, 2019
Over the past 2 years, video surveillance storage specialist Rasilient has expanded its workforce significantly, aiming to build its own branded...

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