The Hikvision Hacking Scandal

Author: John Honovich, Published on Mar 03, 2015

What was once just warnings and consumer concerns has exploded into a major problem for Hikvision.

A Chinese province's Hikvision devices have been hacked.

In this note, we examine what happened, what Hikvision says they are doing about this and what this means for the mega-manufacturer.

Update September 2015. Hikvision has suffered another major hack.

Hikvision Historical Security Problems

As background, Hikvision had already been hit with a number of security concerns / issues over the past few years. The most infamous was Wired's article on Hikvision: HACKERS TURN SECURITY CAMERA DVRS INTO WORST BITCOIN MINERS EVER. In addition, there was a buffer overflow vulnerability found later in 2014. Even more basically, since Hikvision historically did not force users to change default passwords, and since there are so many Hikvision products out there, Hikvision made itself an obvious target for even the least sophisticated hackers.

The Chinese Province Hack

Given the historical problems, what is important here is that this incident is hitting a government organization, where information security is critical.

The province is Jiangsu, on the East coast of China, with ~80 million people.

In a press release only posted on Hikvision's Chinese site (see google translation), Hikvision admits that their products were hacked inside the Jiangsu Province Internet Emergency Center. Hikvision claims that this was due to the use of weak passwords / default passwords. We cannot confirm that as we have no connection to the Jiangsu government.

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

However it happened, the fact that government video surveillance equipment was hacked is a major problem. Indeed, this is even worse given the Chinese government's recent efforts to restrict foreign products that might expose them to hacking / attacks.

Hikvision's Response

In response, Hikvision USA Outlines Updates to Surveillance Products report has been released.

It summarizes steps they have already done in the past year and discloses a new release scheduled for later this month (5.3.0).

[[Note: This firmware has been released. See our full test of it here.]]

Key changes in this upcoming release include:

  • Forcing change of the default password (an obvious step and a key risk otherwise)
  • Disabling telnet access (telnet is considered quite vulnerable)
  • Lockouts after 5 incorrect login attempts (helpful to stop brute force attempts)

The Impact

Hikvision's stock dropped 7.5% in the first day of trading post the full disclosure (trading was actually halted Monday). In percentages terms, that is not huge but at their size, it is a drop of more than $1 billion USD in value. On the second day, the stock price rose slightly, indicating that the market does not view this as a major risk.

Update: June 25, 2015: Less than 3 months later, Hikvision's stock price is up more than 50% since the hacking announcement, showing that the market does not really care about this.

Since Hikvision is partially owned by the Chinese government and has deep connections, we doubt that this will be a fatal issue for Hikvision domestically. On the other hand, it is clearly a black eye for Hikvision and something that was hotly discussed inside of China.

In North America and Europe, we think the impact will be more severe. Rival manufacturers have already been hammering Hikvision as being 'spamware'. This will simply confirm it. On the lower end of the market, where Hikvision is most commonly used, outside of China, we suspect most will not care strongly as information security tends not to be a priority compared to price. However, as Hikvision tries to expand into the mid and high end markets, we think this will cause significant resistance, making it easy for rivals to declare, "Sure, you can buy Hikvision for half the price but with Axis you won't get hacked."

Hikvision Integrators / Users / OEMs

If you are a Hikvision integrator, user or OEM, you better very carefully review your deployed products and absolutely ensure that everything is upgraded immediately. Hikvision firmware upgrades are available here.

After a hack of this magnitude, it is going to be extremely hard to explain how you allowed your equipment to be hacked. And Hikvision products deployed before a year ago (and not upgraded) have many very basic / simple vulnerabilities. It is hard for us to tell if the upgrades solve every possible risk, but it is obvious that the older versions are significantly risk prone.

Poll

21 reports cite this report:

Hikvision Backdoor Confirmed on May 08, 2017
The US Department of Homeland Security's Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) has issued an advisory for...
Chinese Company Xiongmai Threatens Legal Action Against Western Accusers on Oct 24, 2016
The Chinese video surveillance manufacturer, Xiongmai, whose equipment numerous sources blame for driving massive Internet attacks over the past...
US Embassy Requires Hikvision Cameras on Aug 29, 2016
The US Embassy in Kabul Afghanistan has required only Hikvision cameras in a new US federal government bid. However: Hikvision was founded...
Hikvision Rejects Responsibility for Hacked Hikvision Cameras on May 10, 2016
After a massive number of Hikvision cameras were hacked, Hikvision has added new, and questionable legal language, declaring that Hikvision will...
ADI Refuses to Fix Their OEM'd Hikvision Security Risks [Solved] on Mar 09, 2016
More than a year after massive hacks against Hikvision was disclosed; More than 9 months after Hikvision issued improved security firmware, mega...
Network Security for IP Video Surveillance Guide 2016 on Feb 03, 2016
Keeping surveillance networks secure can be a daunting task, but there are several methods that can greatly reduce risk, especially when used in...
Arecont and Bosch - Default Security Risk on Dec 14, 2015
Default passwords are a major security risk, enabling hackers around the world to access and control devices like IP cameras (using Shodan, turning...
Axis Cybersecurity Hardening Guide Examined on Nov 19, 2015
In most IT areas, 'hardening' guides are commonplace, providing best practices for improving the cybersecurity of network products (e.g., see this...
Hikvision Hires Pelco / G4S Exec Sam Belbina on Nov 10, 2015
Hikvision gets another major industry executive. He was most recently the President of G4S Technology, and before that VP of Sales at Pelco. Now,...
Winners Losers Fall 2015 on Oct 12, 2015
There's a lot of losing right now, unfortunately. The industry is moving into year 2 of sharp camera price declines. Combined with the maturation...
Dahua Finally Has A US Distributor on Oct 08, 2015
Finally. Billion dollar Dahua is the 'smaller' of the two mega Chinese surveillance manufacturers (the other being Hikvision). Historically,...
Warning: ADI and Tri-Ed Video Products Major Security Risk on Sep 22, 2015
Recently, ADI and Tri-Ed both started OEMing Hikvision products. Reference - IPVM test on ADI W Box, IPVM test of Tri-Ed Northern Video. Both ADI...
The Hikvision Hacking Scandal Returns on Sep 22, 2015
With a vengeance. The last time, the industry mostly shook it off. This time, it is clearly much worse. In this note, we examine Hikvision's...
Anixter/Tri-Ed Northern Video Tested on Sep 18, 2015
ADI is an IP video manufacturer now (see IPVM's ADI W Box test results). And now, their top rival, Anixter's Tri-Ed arm has also entered the IP...
ADI's Disruptive W Box Tested on Jul 22, 2015
ADI moves hundreds of millions of dollars worth video surveillance equipment each year. And now, they are disrupting the channel, cutting out...
Pros and Cons - Automating Firmware Updates on Jul 01, 2015
Firmware and software updates are one of the most tedious tasks in surveillance, so why not make them easier? While other devices, like PCs,...
Hikvision Anti Hacking Firmware Tested on Jun 03, 2015
Hikvision has had historic hacking problems, with DVRs turned into Bitcoin miners, buffer overflow vulnerabilities, and finally culminating in the...
Hikvision Hires Ex-Samsung / Panasonic Exec on May 18, 2015
Hikvision's expansion continues, with the mega Chinese manufacturer now hiring one of the most well known and well tenured American sales...
Axis Cuts Prices 2015 on Mar 09, 2015
Axis has cut prices on a number of their most popular markets.  In this note, we look at feedback from Axis, comparing how this impacts...
NMAPing IP Cameras on Mar 05, 2015
The Hikvision hack has increased security concerns. Indeed, most users do not know whether they are vulnerable or not, which ports of their...
Avigilon 2014 Financials Disappoint Investors on Mar 04, 2015
Hikvision admits their equipment got hacked in a large government deployment - stock down just 7.5% Avigilon announces revenue up 42% - stock down...
Comments (47): PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Hikvision Backdoor Exploit on Sep 18, 2017
Full disclosure to the Hikvision backdoor has been released, allowing easy exploit of vulnerable Hikvision IP cameras. As the researcher, Monte...
Avigilon Touting 'Made In America' on Sep 18, 2017
Canadian manufacturer Avigilon, who completed a US manufacturing facility in 2015, is now running a marketing campaign touting 'Made In America',...
September IP Networking Course on Sep 14, 2017
LAST Chance - Registration is ending. Register now. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals...
Dahua USA President Out, South American President Takes Over on Sep 11, 2017
Dahua's South American President has taken over Dahua North America as well. This is Dahua's third North American head in 2017. Will this one...
Fortune 500 Company Bars Dahua and Hikvision on Aug 30, 2017
A Fortune 500 company has barred Dahua and Hikvision cameras from a large RFP due to cyber security concerns, IPVM has confirmed with the...
Security Press Wrong About New NY State Video Law on Aug 29, 2017
SecurityInfoWatch wrongly declared: N.Y. governor signs bill outlawing video surveillance of neighbors SDM wrongly affirmed: It is now illegal to...
Hikvision Happy With Bad Security Unless Hit With Bad Press on Aug 28, 2017
Hikvision is happy to have bad cyber security unless they are hit with bad press, as we detail inside. When you look at the pattern of their...
‘Experts' Fail On Dumbo IP Camera ‘Hack' on Aug 24, 2017
Dumbo, revealed by Wikileaks, has become big news. Unfortunately, 'experts' in the security industry have gotten it wrong, incorrectly contending...
China Threatens Reducing Exports to the USA on Aug 23, 2017
The US government has launched a probe into China's alleged theft of US intellectual property. The Chinese government has fired back, threatening...
Avigilon CEO Attacks Asian Companies Cyber Insecurity on Aug 18, 2017
Avigilon CEO is taking aim at their Asian competitors. And he is going directly after these company's cyber security issues. In this note, we...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Reseting IP Cameras - 30 Manufacturer Directory on Sep 22, 2017
Every camera has a reset button (well, almost) but it is not always clear what these buttons do, how long they need to be held, what settings they...
Genetec Launches Cloud Access Control (Synergis SaaS) on Sep 21, 2017
Genetec's cloud everything expansion continues, with their announcement of Synergis SaaS edition, joining their cloud video offering Stratocast,...
Genetec CEO Warns Against Insider Threats on Sep 21, 2017
With Dahua and Hikvision cybersecurity issues becoming indisputable, a new counter has emerged. Just put them behind a firewall, buy cheap...
New IPVM Calculator V3 Released on Sep 20, 2017
The New IPVM Calculator V3 is released. An entirely new architecture delivers the following benefits: Turbo The calculator is now ~50% faster in...
Automatic Door Operators For Access Tutorial on Sep 20, 2017
Opening and closing doors might sound simple, but it takes a high-tech piece of door hardware to pull it off. Integrating automatic door operators...
'Clowns' Allege Ubiquiti 'Completely Fraudulent' on Sep 20, 2017
A short seller has alleged Ubiquiti is 'completely fraudulent'. Ubiquiti's CEO has responded calling them 'clowns'. Here is the short...
Avigilon 'Blue' Cloud Entry Examined on Sep 19, 2017
Avigilon is moving to the cloud. The company announced their Avigilon Blue platform, designed to be a web-managed surveillance system, utilizing...
HID Buys Mercury Security on Sep 19, 2017
One of the biggest access control deals in years. Mercury Security, the most widely used access hardware OEM, and partner to 20+ manufacturers,...
Hikvision Backdoor Exploit on Sep 18, 2017
Full disclosure to the Hikvision backdoor has been released, allowing easy exploit of vulnerable Hikvision IP cameras. As the researcher, Monte...

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