Hikvision Anti Hacking Firmware Tested

Author: Ethan Ace, Published on Jun 03, 2015

Hikvision has had historic hacking problems, with DVRs turned into Bitcoin miners, buffer overflow vulnerabilities, and finally culminating in the hacking of a Chinese province's cameras due to weak passwords.

In response to these attacks, Hikvision promised improvements to address these issues in updated firmware.

We tested this new firmware, version 5.3.0, to see how these features functioned, any potential drawbacks, and what impact this new firmware has on Hikvision devices being hacked.

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Comments (15)

nothing is going to "prevent hacking". I think they did a pretty good job of thwarting it but as long as your connected - you're not safe. Its like death - Its part of our lives so we need to accept that, take whatever precautions we can, get whatever insurance we can, hope for the best and don't dwell on it. Customers want to know that you've taken every precaution but they understand that if the Feds & banks can't keep thier systems safe, they can't expect to keep their security system 100% safe either.

Weren't they vulnerable to some pretty elementary buffer overflow attacks as well? Can't say I put much faith in them after that.

Tyler- the buffer overflow issue was corrected last year, within a week of it being reported to us (Hikvision). Hikvision has set up multiple addresses for the reporting of secuity concerns and issues. We also track US-Cert for their weekly reports of all reported security issues.

Bob

Not enough. Partially Hikvision's fault: 3 months is too long for these kinds of fixes. The rest is the industry's own fault: DVR/NVRs (and cameras) often carry the same types of security vulnerabilities as commodity IT equipment (PCs/servers) but without the standard practices or infrastructure to support regular updates that have evolved in the IT industry over the past 30+ years. Microsoft, Apple, et, al., release security patches almost monthly, and many IT shops are set up to either install these automatically or have policies to ensure that software is kept up-to-date. Our industry is somewhat proud to be "non-converged" and as such doesn't seek out the goal to keep software up-to-date or secure. Consequently, many Hikvision DVRs will forever remain unpatched.

I'd say it's a problem that extends well outside of security. So, so many people just don't appreciate the gravity of making a device accessible to every single person in the world with an IP address and hoping that it doesn't have any unknown vulnerabilities. Look at the router hacks that have happened (and are continuing to happen) for a perfect example.

Tyler, you're right, it can/does exist outside of security. It exists in any culture where systems are not regularly patched with the inevitable security fixes.

My point is for systems to be kept up-to-date and thus relatively free of known security vulnerabilities two things need to exist:

  1. The manufacturer needs to both continuously release security patches and provide mechanisms whereby patches can be easily (if not automatically) applied.
  2. The customer needs to recognize that regular updates are required to keep their system secure, and take responsibility for ensuring the updates get applied. They need to hold the manufacturer accountable, and exploit whatever facilities exist (i.e, automatic updates) to update their systems whenever possible.

Any IT culture falls somewhere in a spectrum: on one extreme they install a system and never update it, on the other extreme they continually apply updates.

The security industry tends to fall towards the former part of that spectrum. Many Hikvision customers aren’t paying attention to the security of their DVR/NVRs (or they wouldn’t let telnet run on their network), and Hikvision has not been responsible for keeping their vulnerabilities in check. I don’t believe this will change much unless the non-converged security networks take on some of the best practices that are more common on the IT network.

Your example of router vulnerabilities is a great one. But I propose that that too is mostly a problem in an environment/culture where systems are allowed to get out of date (specifically, the home/small-office environment). This culture is being ‘admin’d’ typically by non-IT person, who doesn’t even know they should be checking to ensure their network could evolve new vulnerabilities and their only recourse is to keep their router updated.

I would say that these hacks were incorrectly blamed on Hikvision. The problem was the end user not creating appropriate passwords. This update simply requires integrators and installers to do their job properly. The lockout is a nice security feature and that brings these cameras to a step more secure than most others.

No one should EVER put a system into production, let alone a security system, with default passwords in place. All it takes at that point is someone to spend 30 seconds on google and they have control of your devices.

Blaming the manufacturer for this is like blaming Ford that your car was stolen because you left it unlocked and the key in the ignition. A lot of responsibility falls to the administrator for security.

I think this got a lot of press at it was a Chinese company and that grabs headlines but Axis cameras and countless other products (both security and not) are exactly as vulnerable when the administrators don't use proper password protocols.

"Blaming the manufacturer for this is like blaming Ford that your car was stolen because you left it unlocked and the key in the ignition. A lot of responsibility falls to the administrator for security."

That's a fair point.

"but Axis cameras and countless other products (both security and not) are exactly as vulnerable when the administrators don't use proper password protocols."

Though Axis has forced setting a password upon first login for a few years, which helps to mitigate against this.

Steve- the issue in the news 3 months ago had already been addressed by prior firmware releases. This new Secure Activation process has been in development for some time and takes the security to a new level.

As this involves multiple system components, including NVRS, DVRS, IP Cameras, SADP Search Tool, iVMS-4200, 3rd party integration, etc, it is not simply something that is developed and released. We are also releasing YouTube videos to assist customers with this new process as one of many educational steps Hikvision is taking.

Best regards

Bob

Did Hikvision turn off UPnP by default in this new firmware?

What happens when the illegal lock function is triggered, other than block the offending IP?

What happens if I intentionally attempt to lockout the Admin user account? Will a VMS/DVR using the same creds lose connection too?

If so, I smell a new vulnerability.

If you can send your login attempts from the same machine/IP as the VMS, AND kill the current authorized stream(s), forcing the VMS to re-authenticate, then you should be golden.

It doesn't block the account. It blocks the IP address with too many failed login attempts.

Which could be exploited by spoofing the IP?

Ethan- the firmware is now available on the Hikvision USA website.

http://www.hikvision.com/en/us/download.asp

For other regions, please go to your regional Hikvision Website for available downloads.

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