Hikvision Silent on "Bad Architectural Practices" Cybersecurity Report

Author: John Honovich, Published on Nov 14, 2018

A 'significant vulnerability was found in Hikvision cameras' by VDOO, a startup cybersecurity specialist. Hikvision has fixed the specific vulnerability but has ignored the various underlying problems VDOO has called out.

VDOO outlined 8 'bad architectural practices' in their report, recommending changes, including:

  • Hikvision's "use of appweb 3, specifically an old version of it – which has not been maintained for a long time... is designated “end-of-life”, meaning that it will get no security patches."
  • Hikvision's "firmware file is encrypted using a symmetric encryption. That allows an attacker to open the firmware for research."
  • Hikvision's "firmware file is not digitally signed. This allows an attacker to repack a malicious firmware."
  • Hikvision's "usage of unsafe functions... The best practice is to not use any of the unsafe versions of the functions even if at a specific case it is safe, since using them regularly can lead to using them in an unsafe manner by mistake"
  • "Almost all the logic of the device is contained in one binary. When everything is in one binary there is less privilege separation, and it increases the attack surface."

Silent On Bad Architectural Practices

Hikvision USA sent an email to dealers reiterating that they fixed the vulnerability but they ignored VDOO's recommendations entirely.

Hikvision responded to IPVM, declining any comment on the bad architectural practices, citing the previous vulnerability notice that does not address VDOO's recommendations.

Transparency Commitment

Facing the fallout of 2017's backdoor and 2018's US government ban, Hikvision has emphasized that they will be transparent about cybersecurity to prove that they can be trusted. For example, their Cybersecurity Center page declares:

Hikvision makes the following commitments: ... we will continue to improve and use open and transparent methods so that users can assess Hikvision’s cybersecurity capabilities. [emphasis added]

Indeed, following the ban's passage, then Hikvision President of North America, Jeffrey He declared:

We want to be clear: security and transparency are our top priorities and part of our long-standing commitment to you [emphasis added]

Missed Opportunity

While Hikvision has concentrated on generic cybersecurity posts, like explainer videos and generic cybersecurity tips, they will not go into depth about real issues.

Hikvision had a great opportunity to prove its transparency on a concrete technical report from a cybersecurity specialist but has refused.

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