Remotely accessing surveillance systems is key in 2018, with more and more users relying on mobile apps as their main way of operating the system. However, remote access brings unique challenges, with system security, ease of access, and configuration difficulty all needing to be weighed against each other.
Five Remote Access Options for Video Surveillance
In this report, we explain how the five most common remote access options for video surveillance work:
- Port forwarding
- Universal Plug and Play (UPnP)
- Dynamic DNS
- Cloud / 'Phone Home' (e.g., Hikvision EZVIZ, Axis AVHS, Nest Cam)
- Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
(Related: Network Addressing for Video Surveillance Guide and Converged vs. Dedicated Networks For Surveillance).
2018: Cyber Security Is Critical
Before putting any surveillance system on the internet, it is critical that users understand the risks involved. Several major vulnerabilities were reported in major manufacturers' cameras, including:
GeoVision's Unprecedented Vulnerabilities: 15 critical security vulnerabilities. This includes root access as well as printing / displaying all credentials in clear text.
Hikvision Backdoor Exploit: Hikvision included a magic string that allowed instant access to any camera, regardless of what the admin password was, with the actor only needing to copy and paste.
Vivotek Remote Stack Overflow Vulnerability:Very easy to exploit; no special accounts, passwords, or device-specific strings/hashes are required to execute an exploit against an affected camera. Simply sending a long URL with the malicious content.
Hikvision Cloud Security Vulnerability: A critical vulnerability in Hikvision's global cloud servers allowed an attacker to remotely take over the server and get access to sensitive customer data.
Axis Critical Security Vulnerability: Attackers can gain access to root access however, they need to be highly skilled in Linux and hacking techniques. One needs to probe equipment to see which platform it is, then customize a script for each camera on a one by one basis. This is extremely more difficult to exploit than many camera vulnerabilities.
Hacked Dahua Cameras Drive Massive Cyber Attack: As part of the Mirai botnet, hacked Dahua cameras (and others) took down major internet sites and even an entire country.
Sony IP Camera Backdoor Uncovered: Attackers can remotely enable telnet on cameras, combined with a hardcoded backdoor account which allows users to take over the device.
See our Directory of Video Surveillance Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities and Exploits for more information on these and other issues, including new ones as they occur.
Because of the severity of these incidents and their increasing frequency, it is critical that users understand the basics of cybersecurity for surveillance systems, and how to protect against simple attacks at the very least.
We strongly recommend reviewing Network Security for IP Video Surveillance before proceeding.