Banned Hidden Relabelled Hikvision Surveillance Purchased By US EmbassyBy Conor Healy, Published Jun 15, 2021, 08:09am EDT
A US Embassy is purchasing banned Hikvision OEMs, violating the NDAA ban. The embassy's contractor emailed IPVM asking us to sell them these products and was confused when IPVM alerted them to the fact that this was illegal.
Inside this report, we cover how the contractor accidentally tipped off IPVM to the Hikvision purchase, the equipment being sold, the contract, and the State Department's Response.
Embassy Vendor Asks IPVM for Interlogix Stock
IPVM does not sell any products but intermittently receives such emails most typically because our reporting is returned in search results and people mistakenly email us.
IPVM Points Out Illegal Sale, Grinta Claims Ignorance
IPVM responded informing the vendor that these Interlogix models are actually made by Hikvision, which the US Embassy cannot buy or use, saying:
Thank you for your inquiry. Those devices are manufactured by Hikvision and selling them to the US government will violate US law (specifically the NDAA).
How can we help you and the US embassy in Venezuela correct this mistake?
The Grinta representative replied that "Interlogix/Truevision, as a brand, has nothing to do (to my knowledge) with Hikvision" adding that "I am sure our client would not request a brand that violates any law."
The US Embassy is likely unaware. The problem is that sellers of OEMs like Interlogix (a subsidiary of Carrier and formerly UTC) have long chosen to deceive the public. Since transparent disclosures are rare, buyers of surveillance, even the Federal government, have little way of knowing the actual manufacturer of OEM products. The best option is our Hikvision OEM directory though many do not even realize their product is actually made by another manufacturer, including NDAA banned ones.
Grinta stopped responding to IPVM after we told them we would be reporting on this.
Interlogix Models are Hikvision OEMs
Interlogix is a surveillance brand owned by the multi-billion dollar American company Carrier (spun out of American giant UTC in 2020). IPVM verified that Interlogix products are OEMed from Hikvision in both 2017 testing of Interlogix's 5 series and 2019 testing of Interlogix's 6 series.
While Interlogix makes cosmetic changes to Hikvision's base offering, e.g., from light grey to dark grey, the software is clearly from Hikvision, e.g., as shown below:
Moreover, Hikvision's proprietary SADP software discovers Interlogix devices as Hikvision devices:
IPVM also confirmed that the particular camera (TVB-5403) and NVR models (TVT-1116S-6T) sought by the Embassy are indeed Hikvision OEMs. Interestingly, the TVB-5403 was impacted by the Hikvision backdoor, as Interlogix confirmed itself (Interlogix describes it with Hikvision's phrasing "Potential Privilege Escalation Vulnerability").
Adding to this situation, Interlogix was shut down (at least in North America in 2019) which contributed to this vendor emailing randomly looking to purchase these devices.
Embassy Bid Found in Public Records
Grinta was recently awarded a contract by the US Department of State to supply security cameras in Caracas totaling $31,238.80, according to public records found via GovSpend:
State Department Responds, Declines to Comment
The US State Department responded to this purchase stating generically:
The Department of State does not comment on security protocols, procedures, or capabilities related to its facilities.
The Department regularly reviews the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) list of prohibited manufacturers when making procurements.
Risk Much Broader
While this incident is alarming in itself, the risk is far greater, as for every contractor who accidentally emails IPVM, surely there are many more that quietly and irresponsibly sell banned products to the US federal government. The State Department, the DoD, and other federal entities face significant risk as unscrupulous 'manufacturers' or ignorant sellers sell them banned products whose true identities are hidden, at the expense of the security of the US government.
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