back to article Calls for bans on Chinese CCTV makers Hikvision, Dahua expand

A group of politicians and lawmakers in the UK have backed a campaign to ban the sale of CCTV systems made by companies alleged to introduce potential security issues as well as being linked to human rights abuses in China. Organized by campaign group Big Brother Watch, the letter said that partly Chinese state-owned CCTV …

  1. ITMA Bronze badge
    FAIL

    Why not ban cars as they can be used to kill people. Or hammers.

    There is a reason Hikvision are used by a great many people, companies and local authorities - because their products are pretty damned good at what they do.

    This smacks of protectionism. I wonder how many "vested interests" are involved in the calling for this ban because their own products are crap in comparison?

    1. FIA Silver badge

      I wouldn’t touch Hikvision with a barge pole after discovering they had a hard coded username and password that can’t be disabled.

      This was a few years ago now so they may have improved, but watching a friend sit in the pub, find a camera on shodan and log in was quite eye opening.

      I believe it was a support back door, probably well intentioned as the level of security in the IoT spade was poor back then. (Who hasn’t had to explain to an over eager manager why it sounds useful but is really really dumb…)

      Still doesn’t help the many many cameras still deployed though.

    2. MrDamage Silver badge

      Glorious whataboutism and deflection

      Xi is pleased with you. Your social score has been credited with 100 points. All Glory to the Pooh Bear!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A large part of your business involves selling this tat, I take it?

      1. ITMA Bronze badge
    4. Sandtitz Silver badge

      "There is a reason Hikvision are used by a great many people, companies and local authorities - because their products are pretty damned good at what they do."

      Hikvision are used because the cameras are very cheap and retailed at many shops and smaller companies specialising in security camera installations had an easy upgrade path from older coax cameras because they could just plug cameras and DVR's into company networks and it was instantly visible with the camera app through internet, due to UPNP and the DVR's transferring all the data through manufacturers own systems for easy access. Maybe with default credentials as well. Scary shit but most small companies don't know better. Or care.

      Both Hikvision and Dahua products have been assimilated into botnets due to their vulnerabilities.

      The hardware itself isn't anything peculiar - like with any other cameras the IQ is all about the image sensor and optics, and with interchangeable optics it's only the CCD that matters.

      I looked at Dahuas about 5 years ago last time, and their only solution to use the DVR's with a web browser was via Internet Explorer and an unsigned Active-X plugin! Also, all communications with the NVR was unencrypted, so you could just sniff the credentials.

      If you need to replace legacy (coax) camera systems, the Dahua HDCVI cameras are incredible value for money, and a drop-in replacement for getting FullHD, because CAT cabling would be expensive or even impossible with >100m runs. (ethernet over coax extenders do exist, however)

      Dahua NVR's have contained hard coded credentials.

      These CCTV products should only be used in closed circuits (=separate VLAN with no internet access and firewalled), and then they're secure(-ish) to use, but the usability will still be poor.

      Of course, no matter what the manufacturer is, you should always separate security cameras in their own VLANs.

  2. A random security guy

    All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

    Have been tearing apart systems for years. Haven't seen a single system that doesn't connect back to the motherland. Plus the vulnerabilities are fairly simple to exploit. All that is needed is a registry in China for state hackers to use as a jumping-off point to download surveillance software.

    1. ITMA Bronze badge

      Re: All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

      Care to post some links to evidence supporting those claims?

      And Microsoft et al don't?

      Ah but they aren't Chinese are they and neither is the CIA.

      1. Lordrobot

        Re: All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

        Who needs links when you have the paranoid from the US and UK falling from the sky? Isn't that proof enough?

        1. ITMA Bronze badge

          Re: All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

          Nope....

          Links to evidence of what they claim.... that would be enough.

    2. ITMA Bronze badge

      Re: All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

      Let's be clear.

      This suggested ban has ZERO to do with any imagined or real security issues with the products. It has everythng to do with a political argument about the uses that some the products are put to by one, admittedly very big, customer - the Chinese state.

      If you don't think that is the case, pleae provide links to anything where it mentions "security issues with the products".

      Why aren't there any calls to ban American products associated with firearms because the USA seems very reluctant to do anything about the serious issues they have with gun ownership/abuse/mass slaughtering of children over there?

      Odd that....

      1. Mahhn

        Re: All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

        maybe because china is the only country that locked up over a million people for their land, has been selling their Hair (well documented) and other parts - look it up. This isn't some insane historical thing from hundreds or thousands of years ago - it is right now.

        1. ITMA Bronze badge

          Re: All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

          The harsh reality is that it is THEIR country, not ours.

          Things here in the UK are sufficiently falling apart that UK MPs should be concentrating on the issues here in the UK.

          If UK MPs have the time to do this, then their are NOT doing their job here which, BTW, happens to be the one they are being paid to do.

          1. eldakka Silver badge

            Re: All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

            So basically you seem to be saying "Let's allow others to torture and exterminate their minorities and totally ignore it because we have our own problems to deal with".

            Nice humanity you are showing there. "It's not my problem".

            First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a socialist.

            Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a trade unionist.

            Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

            Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

            The CCP in China is an authoritan, genocidal regime who are intent 'securing their position in the world' by destroying everything they can't take control of. Just look at what they are doing in Hong Kong and their actions to Taiwan. They are cheering on that maniac Putin because they want to do to Taiwan what Russia is doing in the Ukraine. They are systematically raping other countries fisheries, extending their military possessions, and trying to make everyone kowtow to them.

            "Either we hang together or we'll be hanged separately"

            1. ITMA Bronze badge

              Re: All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

              Same could be said of the USA... the overturning of Roe vs Wade for example.

          2. Spazturtle

            Re: All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

            "The harsh reality is that it is THEIR country, not ours."

            No it is not, occupying and colonising a place doesn't make it yours. The people whose country it is are the people who China are locking up in camps.

            1. tip pc Silver badge

              Re: All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

              You could just replace “china” with USA and the same would apply.

              The USA did away with the ethnic population, often rounding them up into camps and don’t like to talk about it.

              They also went to other countries, rounded up individuals and sent to camps in het other countries.

              https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4761112/

              Many other examples of the USA doing similar to what the Chinese are doing.

              Doesn’t make either nation right, makes them both wrong & id rather neither where doing these things.

              Most 1st world nations are guilty of the things china has been doing.

              I wish they would all stop.

              1. eldakka Silver badge

                Re: All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

                > Most 1st world nations are guilty of the things china has been doing.

                The difference is most of those actions are in the past, and those coutries acknowledge that those actions were wrong and should never have happened, and are trying to prevent them from happening in the future.

                China has not only done those things in the past, they are doing them now and they not only don't think there is anything wrong with it, they are actively defending those actions and are expanding on those actions as current policy.

        2. ITMA Bronze badge
          Devil

          Re: All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

          Then why not call for a ban on Toyota and Nissan pickup trucks, so beloved by middle eastern and African warlords as mobile gun platforms?

          But they aren't, are they.

          Unless it was in the news and I missed it...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

            Wow!

            That was a hard right turn.

            I wasn’t even holding on!

            1. ITMA Bronze badge

              Re: All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

              Exactly the same logic...

              Ban something not because of what it is but because of one particular use some power in another country chooses to put it to.

        3. localzuk Silver badge

          Re: All Chinese CCTV systems connect back to China

          Really? The only country to lock up huge numbers of people for various spurious reasons?

          The USA mustn't have 2 million prisoners then, and a criminal justice system that has repeatedly been shown to be flawed.

          Israel mustn't lock up Palestinians for displaying flags or a list of lots of other spurious reasons.

          Russia doesn't lock up anyone who dare talk in any way against the govt? Or Rwanda? Turkey?

          The list is long and complicated.

  3. K

    I've got zero faith in anything gov.uk says anymore...

    Several days ago a report was published called for the banning of facial recognition and biometric profiling...

    Yet, all these self-sanctimonious assholes sat in Westminster, who are meant to be dealing with our own problems, they spew this bullshit, and completely ignore the fact that the same shit is now happening in this country.

    MP's I suspect this site above your IQ level (quite an achievement), but if you read this... stop looking abroad for amusement, I assure, we have enough issues in the UK to do that... Now ask the Civil Service to give you dumbed down version of events, and do what your paid for!

    1. ITMA Bronze badge

      Re: I've got zero faith in anything gov.uk says anymore...

      And besides, they have far more pressing issues to deal with here in the UK.

      So they should get off their over paid backsides and deal with those instead of wasting time on what China is doing with cameras.

      Could it be because they think it will help distract from the utterly shite job they are doing here in the UK?

      1. K

        Re: I've got zero faith in anything gov.uk says anymore...

        Thats exactly what is it...

        Shits not going so well at home, so they shout "squirrel". Sometimes, I'm ashamed to be British, cause so many of us fall for it, even the people who be considered the brightest!

    2. Blazde

      Re: I've got zero faith in anything gov.uk says anymore...

      Eh? It's not gov.uk though is it, it's opposition parties & back benchers. Almost all the signatories to this letter are all the same people and organisations who've been calling for the banning of facial recognition and biometric profiling for a long time. Linking it to the more recent concern on human rights abuses in China is a tactic to highlight the danger of being complacent about civil liberties here, and to gain more widespread support.

      1. ITMA Bronze badge

        Re: I've got zero faith in anything gov.uk says anymore...

        "Eh? It's not gov.uk though is it, it's opposition parties & back benchers"

        Doesn't matter which side of "The House" they sit on. They are there to run the UK for the good of the UK people, Not to look out for the interests or rights of citizens of some other country.

        (Red) Ken Livingstone was (in)famous for that BITD.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge
    Meh

    meh...

    Two things... One is I've never heard anything good about Hikvision on other more technical forums. So, I guess the Barge Pole factor is in effect here. Two, If this is coming from clueless leaches, with vested interests, wow, what a shot in the dark...?!

    1. ITMA Bronze badge

      Re: meh...

      What ever one thinks of Hikvision's products, compared to a lot of crap that comes from China but still gets sold/imported to the UK, at least they are not downright electrically dangerous (as lot of said crap is).

      So why are they targetting Hikvision but doing bugger all about all this other stuff? Quite a lot of which are fire hazards or potentially lethal.

  5. steviebuk Silver badge

    Good

    Lets be clear its not the Chinese people that are the issue its the CCP. Due to what the CCP have access to no doubt they have access to the cameras. They are just hoping at some point they are installed in "sensitive areas". Its all about soft power for the CCP. Quite a lot of evidence for it on Twitter, YouTube and other social media. Just look up The Great Translation on Twitter for this.

    Trouble is, I quite like their cameras. We had shit ones throughout our sites and unfortunately the cheapest setup when hkivision ones. We're also looking at a dedicated server setup for managing them which actually looked quite good and reliable. Just annoying all run by China, no doubt with access for the CCP.

    Final thought is this has already been revealed with TikTok. Admitting that TikTok USA data is available to access and has been access by some Chinese employees. No doubt those employees will be mates of the CCP.

    Get ready for the wumaos to come along.

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: Good

      Being forced to watch teenagers on TikTok seems a perfect punishment for errant spies.

  6. DS999 Silver badge

    I had a Laview system - relabeled Hikvision

    The NVR and cameras were easy to setup and configure, and while it had a "cloud" option you didn't have to use it. I had it on a private network that could only be accessed via VPN, so even if there were backdoors like hardcoded passwords it wouldn't affect me.

    The only thing I didn't like about it was a couple of annoying bugs and the complete lack of updates. Not sure if that lack was Laview or Hikvision's fault, but for a system with NVR (not including HDD) and 6 color HD PoE cameras for $600 almost a decade ago it was hard to beat the price.

  7. John Geek

    I can't find any affordable cameras in the same range as the Dahua IPC-T5442T-ZE with remotely similar quality night vision.

    as far as security goes, you put IoT stuff like cameras on a private VLAN without internet access, and don't let anything access it other than your NVR. problem solved.

    1. cb7

      And what if you need to monitor a site remotely?

      1. unbender

        Gateway that allows access to the DVR or a jumpstation that can talk to the cameras. No reason to allow the cameras to be directly connected to the Internet.

  8. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Don't even need to involve politics

    Hikvision cameras are a dumpster of bad software that nobody should be shipping. They phone home. They have backdoors. They're completely insecure even when it's unintentional. I must have bought and returned 6 security cameras because they were whitelabel Hikvisions. Do everything possible to secure them then put them on the WAN. They're crashed, destroyed, or compromised in minutes.

    Before you all go screaming about putting cameras on the WAN: Some network cameras are designed to be self-contained devices on the Internet. No 3rd party services, no subscriptions, and no VPN tricks. They can run be configured with multiple network addresses at once.

    1. ITMA Bronze badge

      Re: Don't even need to involve politics

      "Hikvision cameras are a dumpster of bad software that nobody should be shipping"

      You've never seen Foscam then..... LOL

  9. Lordrobot

    The Crying Dying old Empires

    The great Slave Traders had no difficulty stealing humans from Africa but think Cameras made in China must have something to do with Forced Labour. Oh, you have become so pious. Just like Father Cydshagger.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Crying Dying old Empires

      What a great analogy.

      200 year old morals versus todays morals.

      Nice false paradigm you have there.

    2. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: The Crying Dying old Empires

      The great Slave Traders had no difficulty stealing humans from Africa

      .

      They in no way stole them, they bought the slaves fair and square from the other Africans who owned them.

  10. cb7

    Maybe I haven't looked hard enough, but I haven't really come across any CCTV systems that weren't made in China.

    Could say the same about a massive number of other things. But let's stay on topic.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      True, but the control of software and related services varies a lot. But even for a "trusted" brand that is not under the CCP's thumb, you should still put them on a private network.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Axis is worth a look

      1. ITMA Bronze badge

        But expensive in comparison.

        I've known Axis since they did Twinax and Coax print servers for connecting parallel port page printers to IBM mainframes a long time ago.

        Their network horn speakers are not bad - by why oh why do they not have "Logout" in their web UI????

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “human rights abuses in China”

    Not a crime, a national obsession!

    How the Party members laughed!

  12. adam payne

    we believe Hikvision is not a competent arbiter to decide on this matter. Moreover, it is beyond our capability to make a judgement on this matter, particularly against a backdrop where the debate surrounding the Xinjiang issue comes with clashing geopolitical views.

    Wow Xi Jinping approves of that non statement and so does the rest of the CCP.

    As fellow humans it shouldn't be beyond your capability to make a judgement on the matter.

  13. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Angel

    The East is Red !

    Isn't this the same group who advocate sanctions on any Western Big Techs who facilitate and obey the Chinese State ?

  14. localzuk Silver badge

    Where do you draw the line

    At the moment, calls to ban these 2 companies seem at odds with the rest of trade policy in the UK.

    The fundamental reality is China has a huge amount of control over all aspects of Chinese businesses. What would happen to a company like Hikvision if they refused to sell to their government for what is effectively a political reason?

    We need, as a country, to take a step back and question much more than a couple of companies. We are happy to trade with China to a tune of £93bn a year. How is that OK if the issue at hand is the Chinese government breaking international human rights rules?

    Surely it should be all or nothing? Stop trading with China? Or accept that we are OK with what they do to their people.

    1. ITMA Bronze badge

      Re: Where do you draw the line

      Precisely.

      This "call", if enacted, would have as much effect on the use the Chinese state puts such technology to as an empty 500ml plastic bottle on a road has at stopping a 40 tonne truck. Absolutelty bugger all.

      These politicians are doing it "to be seen be doing something" even though in practical terms it is utterly useless - pure political image.

      And what have they done about the use of facial recognition and biometrics in this county? Strangely quiet on that one.. Especially when it comes to doing something in the one country they CAN do something. And they have done bugger all.

      Strange that.

  15. MonsieurTM

    So the UK Government has been merrily invading our privacy for years. The fact the kit might be dodgy is irrelevant! So now Jonny or Jane MP has to reveal that they have been using advanced surveillance techniques on Joe Public for years!!! Such is the dodgy-ness of these techniques that they should be banned!!!

    But not from the UK: just replaced with more expensive kit with even more leaks in them from our mates old "get to the back of the queue" USofA.

    Oh:-El Rwg, how your reportage failed us.

  16. MonsieurTM

    El Reg itself reported about GCHQ's analysis of the code in the 5G kit from Huawei: apart from the usual rubbish code quality, NONE.

    This story is the classic "look, the Queen!" trope: UK government has, allegedly, been spying and infringing our liberties for years. Now they have been found out. How to get out of this mess? Easy: blame it on the most appropriate fake news. The cameras are Chinese: so look at Huawei: they are dodgy (NOT, as reported by El Reg itself), so these must be too!!! Evil Chinese spying on us through alleged back-dporsbthat some bloke behind the potting shed told me he'd found

    Shame on you El Reg to fall for this.

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