Every Security professional has heard of Hikvision and if you are in the market for a security camera system, the chance that you will receive estimates including Hikvision or Hikvision-based OEM products is more likely than not.
Hikvision has done a great job flooding the market with a wide variety of security products that come at a low cost with few technical/reliability problems. Their products offer tremendous value so they are an obvious choice for those individuals looking for decent system on a budget. One reason that Hikvision has had so much success at taking up such are large part of the security market is that they are more than 40% owned by the Chinese government and thus have unlimited resources to spend on marketing, and research and development.
Suspicions about the susceptibility of Hikvision products to hacking and their alleged ability to send sensitive recorded data directly to China were raised a couple of years ago. Holes were found in their firmware that made their products susceptible to hacking. The US Department of Homeland Security released an advisory in May of 2017 publishing the list of Hikvision products found to be vulnerable to exploitation. In their defence, Hikvision released patches within days of the published discovery. What isn’t clear is if the “holes” were intentionally put there by Hikvision and they only released patches when they were found and publicized or if it was just poor design to begin with.
No matter what the answer is to that question, it is usually the perception that matters: People became wary of using Hikvision products. Back in January 2018 an Army base in Missouri removed 5 Hikvision cameras, not because they could be hacked (they were on a closed network) but merely because the perceived threat was good enough to justify their removal.
Last Thursday May 24, 2018 the US House passed bill HR 5515 banning the use of all Hikvision, as well as a major Chinese competitor, Dahua, products in all government facilities. Due to the ongoing concerns, this move makes sense for the US Government who needs to protect its national security. But what does this mean for Hikvision? Time will tell how this will affect the Brand and its reputation. Hikvision is rebranded by so many OEMs it would be nearly impossible for an end-user to know if they are getting Hikvision products or not, so it is unlikely they will ever disappear.
It is important to realize that there is little likelihood that the Chinese government would want images from your store, restaurant or business’ security camera system. But will the perceived threat sway you to purchase another brand or will the low cost and value provided by Hikvision products continue to drive its sales? The concern is real enough for the US government to pass a bill banning their use so the old adage still remains true; BUYER BEWARE.