Broken Browser Support for Video Surveillance

By: Ethan Ace, Published on Mar 22, 2017

Modern web browsers have left the security industry behind. Current Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge browsers do not support NPAPI plugins, crippling live video and configuration in many IP camera and recorder web interfaces. And despite years of warnings that these plugins would be (or have been) disabled, few manufacturers have released plugin-free UIs with support for H.264 streaming.

In this report we look at what manufacturers are affected and which have released plugin-free web UIs, covering:

  • Arecont
  • Avigilon
  • Axis
  • Bosch
  • Dahua
  • Hanwha
  • Hikvision
  • Panasonic
  • Pelco

****** *** ******** **** left *** ******** ******** behind. ******* ******, *******, and ********* **** ******** do *** ******* ***** plugins, ********* **** ***** and ************* ** **** IP ****** *** ******** web **********. *** ******* years ** ******** **** these ******* ***** ** (or **** ****) ********, few ************* **** ******** plugin-free *** **** ******* for *.*** *********.

** **** ****** ** look ** **** ************* are ******** *** ***** have ******** ******-**** *** UIs, ********:

  • *******
  • ********
  • ****
  • *****
  • *****
  • ******
  • *********
  • *********
  • *****

[***************]

Browser *******

**** ***** ********** ****** ******* ***** (or ***** ***):

******* ** ****, ***** are *********** ***** ***** Internet ********, ******* *** age,******** ******** *****, *** **** ** feature *******.

Plugin-Free *** **********

***** *** ***** ******* plugin-free *** ********** ***** offer *.*** ******* (****** support *****, ********* *****).

  • **** (********* **** *********, others ***** ** ****)
  • *****
  • ******

***** *** ******* ***** manufacturers ***** ** *** require *******, ***** ***** streaming ** *** *******, including ********, *******, *********, and *****. ** **** not ******** ***** ****, focusing **** ** ***** offering *.***/*.*** ******* *******.

Axis *** *** *********

**** *** ********* *** *** ************** ******** ****** **** H.264 ** ***** *** cost********* ****. *******, **** **** Axis ******* **** *** yet ******** **** ******. Axis **** **** **** is ********* *** ******* in ** ******* *** rest ** **** *** other ******.

Bosch: ** ****** *.***

** ******* *********, *.*** streams ******* ***** ******* in *** ********. *** example, *** ***** ***** shows ************ ********* ******* *******.

Hanwha / *******

*** ****** ****** (******* P, *, *** *) ship **** ***** ******* web *********, ***** **** notably ******** ***** ******* support, ******* ** *** web ********, ***** *** past ******* ******* ********* required ******* *** **** live ******* *** *************. Note **** **** *** interface ** **** ********** (shown *****), *** ****** on ****** ***** ******** as **** ** *** (MJPEG ********* ****).

Plugins ********

*****, ** ****** ******* manufacturers ***** ******* ******* for *********, ******* **** streaming ** *************, *********:

  • **** (******* *** *********)
  • *****
  • *********

Axis: ***** **** / ******* *************

** ******** ***** **** IE (***** *** **** Media ******* ******), **** cameras ******* ***** ***** only. ********* *** *.*** stream ******* ***** **** the ******* ** *** supported:

************, ************* ** **** elements ** ******** **** not ***** **, *********** below.

Dahua: ** **** ***** / ******* *************

** ******** ***** **** Internet ********, ***** ***** no **** *****, ***** here ** *******:

**** **** ******* ***** setup, **** ** ***, shown *****. ******* ******* installed, ***** ****** **** VMD ******* ** ******* masks.

Hikvision: ** **** ***** / ******* *************

**** *****, **** ***** and **** ************* ******** are **** ******** ******* plugins (******* ** **). Note **** ***************** * ********* ** 2015 ********* ****** *******, ******** ** ***** be **-******* ** "** 2015", *** **** *** not ********.

*****, ******* **** ***** displayed, *** *** ********* configuration *** ********, ***** here ** *******.

H.264 / *.*** ********* ********

** ********* ** ********* ****** ************ ******* Support******, ***** *** **** to ****** *.*** (*** now *.***) ***** ******* NPAPI *******, **** **:

  • ***** ***** ********.******** ********************* * **** ***** platform ******* **************. **** *********** *** cases *** ** ******** using ********** (*** ******* ***** out ******** ** ****** **********).

  • ******.********* ******** *** **** time ************* ******* ***** and *** ********** *** also ** **** *** applications **** **** ********* media *** ****. ******’*********** ********** ****** ** ****** HD ***** ******* * browser *** **.

*******, ***** *** **** limited ******** **** ** the *** ***** ***** Chrome, *** **** ******* web *******, ******** ***** support, ** ******* ** be **** **** *** surveillance ******** ** ***** will ******* ***** ********.

Comments (30)

I would argue we're not engaged in a "Security" industry. As the last 3 years have proven, this is merely video surveillance. "Security" is just a word.

Thanks for this article and hopefully manufacturers pull their head out of the sand. This is my biggest gripe with manufacturers right now - your great products are USELESS if there is no human interface that works. Forcing people to use Internet Exploder is a good way to lose business and no solution to any problem. This problem is across the board with IOT devices, in the IT world most switches etc. which are configurable via IP at least have command line interface. I would vastly prefer this to a half a$$ed browser interface. That said I am not sure how you would tune motion detection settings etc. without a visual interface.

Use the VMS/CMS software until a fix becomes available.

That is what you do for live viewing and playback but for initial setup of IP address, DNS, NTP servers, camera side motion detection, image adjustments etc. etc. you mostly have to do it directly on a camera. Of course this is generally only a one time setup but if I am installing camera's for a living then it has a big impact. I am sure that manufacturers will eventually release plugin free UI's, would have thought that there would be more movement on this. Plugin support on browsers has been in the process of being stripped out for years now and what is it? - all of 3 manufacturers have come out with a solution...

Dahua doesn't support chrome correctly. You can't login! You have to use IE / Edge or firefox..

They're all this way because waaaay back around the turn of the new millennium out of the primordial linux swamp came BusyBox! The OS that all of the major Chinese manufactured DVR/NVR operating systems were built on top of. They all suffer from the same limitations, and they all have basically the same features. Give evolution some time and more than the GUIs will have changed, hopefully.

I had a bit of fun getting March Networks working across a corporate network when I needed IT involvement many times in getting Silverlight onto client machines

I have a Dahua camera here that now uses a Chrome app.

Web Service/Easy Viewer

Edit: Details here.

Double Edit: In case anyone didn't know, Win 10 still has IE installed although it's not easily found. Simplest way is Windows Key + R to bring up the "Run" window and then just type in "iexplore"

You can also access in edge by choosing "Open with Internet Explorer"

Delighted to see this topic given more attention.

ActiveX, is among other things, just an easy way of extending your Visual Studio authored VMS code into a device. Who would ever want to connect with a browser that is not IE or use an OS that’s not Windows? Seems strange that a lot of camera products expose a feature rich ReSTful API and then stop short of creating a browser agnostic, video capable interface.

Along the same lines I would love to see an article identifying which popular VMS offerings are not primarily authored in a Visual Studio IDE. Seems to me that there is a strong correlation with products having cross platform functionality and innovation in both the UI and in integration possibilities.

IPConfigure Orchid VMS: primarily C++ and JavaScript, not one ounce of C#. Lightweight with 0 operating systems dependencies (Linux or Windows).

http://www.ipconfigure.com/products/orchid

Thanks Christopher. Glad to add another to the list. Can you divulge how Orchid is addressing browser functionality ? WebRTC - HTML5- DASH etc ?

Orchid currently offers real-time transcoding to JPG for mobile & Chrome/Safari, and a plug-in for IE or Firefox ESR. We will release support for WebRTC leveraging the Websocket protocol to replace the plug-in this summer.

**Hanwha employee**

Great article and thanks for bringing attention to an important topic that has been shrugged off for many years. So often it is a nightmare just trying to get a customer's camera to stream video to then be able to start troubleshooting. Plug in free UI is a huge game changer that is many years overdue for this industry.

One quick note.

The latest Hanwha cameras (X series, not sure about P, Q) can also support H.264 in plugin free browsers, with limited frame rate & resolution. I just tested viewing with a 720p profile at 10fps, and it worked in Chrome & Edge.

In browsers with the plugin, there is a button to click on to disable the plugin, if ever needed.

Without the plugin installed, you can still get to the setup page of the web UI.

With a large number of Chinese developments as one can presume, it should not come across as a shock that the net results are as the current trends are subject to the development tools used.

A glance here. https://www.w3counter.com/globalstats.php gives you idea what really the development community for security should be looking at.

The main issue with at least the larger companies is their majority profit caters for domestic market, where windows XP, and Windows 7 are the main players in town!

You can see why Windows8 didn't take off either here.

https://www.extremetech.com/computing/182735-chinese-government-bans-windows-8-due-to-microsofts-retirement-of-windows-xp

So anything outside the WindowsXP & 7 had been a 2nd consideration.

I believe it is not what the developers would always agree about, engineers tend to be tech savvy and would maybe run later systems like windows10 (choke choke).

But at the end of the day deadlines, to complete! rush! and goal kick the release build to sell a few more tins of beans (AKA Cameras) out, takes their priority.

As the first comment was right, a lot of so called security lacks in many ways fundamentally what this industry now lacking. The only way to change direction is via education and making the right purchase.

At least for now, the ESR versions of firefox (32 bit versions) still have MMX plugin support for the web UI. Tested and it works. I am working with a developer to create a standalone viewer app which eliminates the browser entirely (windows), it would be fine for clients who just want a way to move and view their camera(s).

Get it here: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/organizations/all/

Great to see this topic getting covered in IPVM.

At Brivo we recognize that our products must support multiple major browsers and that continuous integration of modern browsers is required to maintain functionality and security.

At Brivo

John, what is Brivo doing with video streaming in their browser clients? How is the video being displayed in Chrome now?

As your members are pointing out, this is a complicated area with trade-offs to be made. Our basic strategy is to use modern components such as HTML5 players and serve video that the client (browser or app) can process. We have to monitor browser releases very closely to ensure that changes to settings and underlying components are identified and handled within our solution. Another key element is ensuring that users are upgrading their browsers on a regular basis.

There is a workaround on Chrome browser. Just need to search for "IE Tab" in Chrome Web Store and install it.

Yes that works on some manufacturers UI's, Axis does work but not on others. Also using the IE tab in Chrome is painful, often when you click on a new setting you have to enter login credentials again...

Have to search the office just to find a windows PC to run IE to configure Hikvision cameras. A real nuisance.

No reason why the straight text configure settings require any plugin at all. Very annoying. Also makes it impossible to script.

Here's a fix for your current version of Firefox to resolve the plugin issue:

open a new browser tab in firefox
1. enter the following: about:config
2. you will be prompted with a security warning, accept
3. right click on the screen over one of the existing commands and go to "New" then select "Boolean"
4. enter the following: plugin.load_flash_only
5. accept/ok
6. set tag to "false"
7. accept/ok
8. press "shift+F2" to open command line
9. type "restart"
10. this will force firefox restart and when it comes back up you should be good to go

I've heard updates will disable this feature again but haven't had any updates to firefox yet to find out.

I believe there's a terminal command you can use to re-enable NPAPI. I know that sounds unbelievable... and I haven't ran the command yet to verify it; it MAY be per session/instance... but I'm not sure. I have a MASSIVE list of shit to get caught up on tomorrow; if I'm able. I will attempt to get the terminal line for Mac users who want access.

Hello, my company has a solution to this issue. Its a standalone windows app, which does away with the web browser entirely. Not a full-featured app like Blue Iris or the Smart PSS software, its intended to replace the web browser for clients/users who just want to look at their cameras with minimal configuration needed or hidden menus.

Its portable, and easy on resources. For all Dahua and clone cameras/NVR's.

https://preferredsolutions.us/

Greg, but if a user needs to add your application, why not just install the Dahua application itself?

Thanks for your question!

This application was developed to address the **browser** issue of the lack of plugin support for Dahua (and OEM) cameras and NVR's. We feel it very suited for that task, especially for clients and end users who otherwise would use a browser. It is not meant to replace full-featured, more complex software as Smart PSS or Blue Iris.

Configuration is much more straightforward than the other apps, there are no hidden menus. While the initial config of the camera still requires a browser or Config Tool, a plugin is not needed for that task if a browser is used. Once that is completed by the user or his/her integrator, we feel our app allows the client or end user to view their camera(s) without being forced to use outdated or insecure browsers. The app is meant for the audience we are discussing here, who are looking for options to replace the lack of browser support for security cameras/NVR's.

Feedback is welcomed!!

Is there a way to use other manufacturers like Hikvsion with the app at some point?

If there is enough interest that could happen. Also porting to Android. While the UI would not change, the underlying api's (from the Dahua SDK) would have to be changed to work with Hik.

Update: Safari 12 has now removed support for NPAPI:

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