NSA Director Keynoting Dahua and Hikvision Sponsored Cybersecurity Conference [Canceled]By: John Honovich, Published on Jun 13, 2019
The technical director for the NSA’s Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center will be keynoting a physical security cybersecurity conference that is being sponsored by Dahua and Hikvision, banned by the US government for security risks.
[CANCELED: the keynote has been canceled, with SIA, the organizer, only saying "The NSA canceled due to a scheduling conflict and requested they be kept in mind for future sessions."]
The organizer of the conference, the Security Industry Association, explained to IPVM that while Dahua and Hikvision are banned for US government use, they are not banned from sponsoring conferences where US government intelligence officials are keynoting, saying:
Cyber:Secured Forum is intended to provide attendees with a variety of perspectives and information that can help strengthen the cyber-hardening policies of the predominantly corporate attendees and their customers. It is not a federal government sales conference. Private sector attendees at industry events such as this conference frequently apply the insights provided by government and industry speakers, sponsors and fellow attendees to their commercial strategies. Moreover, nothing under Section 889 of the NDAA restricts the ability of affected companies to participate in any educational conferences as sponsors. We welcome the participation of SIA members and businesses which support the goal of educating the industry about cybersecurity. [emphasis added]
However, the NSA director keynotes many events and has made clear the risks from China, as the excerpt below shows, where he observes that 'China is everywhere', 'they are stealing our property', 'the greatest transfer of intellectual property in our nation':
In particular, Hikvision is owned and controlled by the Chinese government, as their 2018 financials confirm:
Nonetheless, Hikvision is happy to sponsor and market this as their recent promotion showed:
From Hikvision's perspective, it certainly makes sense, positioning themselves as a PRC government-owned entity happily side by side with the NSA director at a cybersecurity conference. And this event sponsorship is inexpensive compared to the more than a million they have spent lobbying Congress and another million on political PR.
Buying Validation - United Front and Confucious Institutes
Dahua and Hikvision are buying validation, much like the PRC does, more generally, with the United Front and Confucious Institutes. This is something the US government, through the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission is well aware of, as the 2018 "China’s Overseas United Front Work Background and Implications for the United States" report details. Indeed, the US government has banned the use of defense funding for organizations taking money from the PRC's Confucious Institutes.
Allowing Dahua and Hikvision to sponsor such events undermines US law and interests, allowing these PRC organizations and their paid-off partners (like SIA), to pretend everything is fine and that the US government is mistaken and that the real allies of the US are organizations like Dahua and Hikvision, happy to fund these events.
Industry Bought Off
Those outside the physical security industry may find it confusing that a US non-profit like SIA would accept cybersecurity sponsorships from PRC organizations banned for security risks, including one owned by the PRC government.
Unfortunately, many physical security 'leaders' have effectively been bought off by the unprecedented amount of marketing money these now US government banned organizations are willing to spend.