US Govt Punishes IP Camera Manufacturer Trendnet

By: IPVM, Published on Sep 05, 2013

IP camera manufacturer TRENDnet has settled with the FTC after the agency says the company’s advertising, combined with failure to use “reasonable security to design and test its software” resulted in unfair trade practices. Because of security flaws in more than 20 models of TRENDnet cameras, customers’ private camera feeds were available over the Internet  from devices sold to them to secure their homes, according to the FTC. In this note, we review the FTC complaint, the outcome and what the decision means for the industry. 

The Complaint Reviewed

Trendnet's camera line was, as it turns out, ironically branded "SecureView" including a logo on the packaging emphasizing:

According to the FTC complaint [link no longer available], a malfunction in the “Direct Video Stream Authentication,” a setting that controlled user credentials preferences, allowed live feeds to be accessed regardless of a user’s security settings. The feeds were initially made public after hackers exploited the flaw and posted links to “nearly 700 of the cameras” online. “The feeds displayed babies asleep in their cribs, young children playing, and adults going about their daily lives,” says the FTC. 

The FTC also says the company transmitted and stored user login credentials unencrypted, failed to implement a process monitor and assess third-party security reports (delaying the opportunity to fix flaws) and failed to do any type of security review of its software. TRENDnet released a patch shortly after the exploit. 

TRENDnet’s marketing claimed the cameras were “secure” or suitable for maintaining security, says the FTC. On its website, packaging and other advertisements, TRENDnet claimed the cameras could help protect a user’s home, family, property or business. However, because TRENDnet failed to provide security from unauthorized access to live feeds, that “caused, or [was] likely to cause, substantial injury to consumers that is not offset by countervailing benefits to consumers or competition and is not reasonably avoidable by consumers,” said the FTC in the complaint. “This practice was, and is, an unfair act or practice.”  

The Decision Reviewed

On Wednesday, the FTC announced that TRENDnet settled charges that it failed to protect its users' privacy. Although TRENDnet has acknowledged that the flaw was patched, by agreeing to a consent order it is not obligated to admit or deny any of the FTC’s complaints. 

The consent order [link no longer available] bars TRENDnet from “misrepresenting the security of its cameras or the security, privacy, confidentiality, or integrity of the information that its cameras or other devices transmit” and “misrepresenting the extent to which a consumer can control the security of information the cameras or other devices store, capture, access, or transmit.” The order covers all advertisements, promotional materials, installation and user guide, packaging, and any materials disseminated by the company. 

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

It also requires the company to establish a detailed program, in writing, to address security risks and secure user information. The company must have a third-party complete periodic assessments to ensure compliance to the order every two years for the next 20 years. The report for each assessment will be delivered to the FTC. All of these documents must be made available to the FTC for inspection upon request for the next five years. 

Revenue

TRENDnet is a relatively modest player in IP camera market -- according to the complaint, the 80-person company did $5.28 million in IP cameras sales in 2011, rising to $7.4 million in 2012. Assuming a low average selling price (say $70), that would mean ~100,00 IP cameras per year, though almost all in the consumer, non VMS space. However, the potential impact this decision has on the industry is big. 

Impact on Other Manufacturers

In the last few years, the FTC has made an effort to crack down on tech manufacturers who commit privacy violations, but companies producing security technology may get more of the brunt than an app designer that reveals social media data without permission. This case should be an eye-opener for camera manufacturers who make claims about increasing safety or preventing harm. If a company is claiming their cameras can keep a person, place or thing safe, and those cameras have an issue that could negate that safety or potentially cause harm to the user, then that is an unfair trade practice, according to the FTC in this decision. Manufacturers should be more cautious about the claims they’re making and the vulnerabilities they may have. The FTC has demonstrated that they will take action.

This is all the more interesting given that the physical security industry has been historically lax in implementing information security (rampant default password use, ongoing security issues).

1 report cite this report:

Hikvision (Stops) Lying About Ezviz Security on Mar 18, 2016
Hikvision promoted the security of their directly sold Ezviz consumer line to...
Comments (1) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Axis Compares Fever Camera Sellers to 9/11 on Sep 18, 2020
Axis Communications, the West's largest surveillance camera manufacturer, has...
US Passes Uyghur Human Rights Law Condemning Mass Surveillance on Jun 18, 2020
The US government has passed the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020,...
Axis Exports To China Police Criticized By Amnesty International on Sep 21, 2020
Axis Communications and other EU surveillance providers are under fire from...
Dahua Taunts Australian Government, Continues To Sell Illegal Fever Cameras on Aug 10, 2020
Dahua is effectively taunting the Australian government by continuing to sell...
ISC News Fakes Fever Screening, Falsely Quotes FDA on Jun 18, 2020
ISC News, the Reed publication behind the ISC East and West trade shows, has...
Video Surveillance Business 101 on Mar 30, 2020
This report explains the fundamental elements of the video surveillance...
Fever Camera Sales From Integrators Surveyed on Jun 01, 2020
Fever cameras are the hottest trend in video surveillance currently but how...
Convergint Refuses To Fix Faked Fever Marketing, FTC Complaint Filed on Jun 19, 2020
Since Convergint has refused to fix their faked fever camera marketing, IPVM...
Face Masks Increase Face Recognition Errors Says NIST on Aug 04, 2020
COVID-19 has led to widespread facemask use, which as IPVM testing has shown...
Beware Rigged China Fever Cameras on Sep 08, 2020
Many China fever camera manufacturers have rigged algorithms dynamically...
US GSA Explains NDAA 889 Part B Blacklisting on Jul 31, 2020
With the 'Blacklist Clause' going into effect August 13 that bans the US...
Faked Convergint Fever Camera 'Expert' Marketing on Jun 16, 2020
Convergint touts they are "THERMAL CAMERA SOLUTION EXPERTS" while faking...
IPVM Editorial Staff on Aug 01, 2020
IPVM has the largest and most experienced editorial team covering video...
Dynamic vs Static IP Addresses Tutorial on Apr 16, 2020
While many cameras default to DHCP out of the box, that does not mean you...
NetApp Presents Hybrid Cloud Video Archive on May 11, 2020
NetApp presented its hybrid S3 cloud video archive at the April 2020 IPVM New...

Recent Reports

Hikvision Sues Over Brazilian Airport Loss on Sep 24, 2020
Hikvision was excluded from a Brazilian airport project because it is owned...
China General Chamber of Commerce Calls Out US Politics on Sep 24, 2020
While US-China relations at an all-time low, optimism about relations...
Verkada Disruptive Embedded Live Help on Sep 24, 2020
Call up your integrator? Have someone come by the next day? Verkada is...
IP Networking Course Fall 2020 - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 23, 2020
Today is the last chance to register for the only IP networking course...
Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 23, 2020
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet...
IPVM Camera Calculator User Manual / Guide on Sep 23, 2020
Learn how to use the IPVM Camera Calculator (updated for Version 3.1). The...
Installation Course Fall 2020 - Save $50 - Last Chance on Sep 22, 2020
Today is your last chance to save $50 on registration for the Fall 2020 Video...
SimpliSafe Business Security Launched Examined on Sep 22, 2020
SimpliSafe has launched "SimpliSafe Business Security" that the company...
FLIR CEO: Many New Fever Entrants "Making Claims That The Science Just Won't Support" on Sep 22, 2020
FLIR's CEO joins a growing number calling out risks with fever / screening...
China Bems Temperature Measurement Terminal Tested on Sep 22, 2020
Guangzhou Bems (brand Benshi) is the manufacturer behind temperature...
Axis Exports To China Police Criticized By Amnesty International on Sep 21, 2020
Axis Communications and other EU surveillance providers are under fire from...
Milestone XProtect on AWS Tested on Sep 21, 2020
Milestone finally launched multiple cloud solutions in 2020, taking a...
Mobile Access Control Usage Statistics 2020 on Sep 21, 2020
Most smartphones can be used as access control credentials, but how...
Axis Compares Fever Camera Sellers to 9/11 on Sep 18, 2020
Axis Communications, the West's largest surveillance camera manufacturer, has...