Hikvision responds to accusations of being a cyber security risk

Stockholm, Sweden

Keen Yao, the VP of Hikvision’s International Business Centre.

In its latest issue, the security trade magazine Detektor International (1/2017), reports that products from Hikvision are being accused of being a cyber security risk. Various media sources have even claimed that the Chinese government may even have access to to the Hikvision cameras. Furthermore, the magazine reports that the market leading VMS company Genetec has introduced restrictions against Hikvision products and this has increased the air of mistrust.

In the light of these recent accusations and criticsm, the magazine also published an exclusive interview with Keen Yao, the VP of Hikvision’s International Business Centre, conducted by Lennart Alexandrie, Editor in Chief of Detektor magazine.

For those who have not yet had the chance to read it, we are publishing this interview here on

What is your reaction to the accusations that Hikvision cameras can be hacked by the Chinese government?

“It’s important to consider the source and motivation of anyone who would make this kind of baseless allegation. These are not people who care about security and public safety. They care about their personal financial and political agendas. They certainly do not display an understanding of physical security technology. It is time to move away from outdated Cold War stereotypes and concentrate on solving the serious problems our global society faces today.”

Is it possible to put a “backdoor” in a Hikvision or other manufacturer’s device?

“Any manufacturer, including those who develop or support software, has the technical ability to put a “backdoor” into firmware. Of course, Hikvision has never intentionally put a backdoor into firmware or software, and it never will.”

Genetec has decided to make their customers sign a waiver so as not to be able to hold Genetec responsible if their network or their neighbours’ networks are attacked via a Hikvision device. Genetec is also worried about Chinese government control over Hikvision. Can you comment on that?

“We believe this is an unfortunate move by Genetec, which purports to be Onvif-compliant and an “open” platform. It is also unfortunate for integrators and end-users. Genetec has not produced any evidence that this decision is based on product technology. We believe it is politically motivated and designed to negatively influence perceptions about Hikvision’s approach to cyber security. We have been in touch with our partners and customers about Genetec’s decision and are available to answer any questions, and to discuss options.”

Is Hikvision a division of the Chinese government? What is the ownership structure of Hikvision?

“Hikvision is a commercial entity; it is not a division of the Chinese government. The ownership structure of Hikvision, like many global, publicly traded companies, is complex, and includes a diverse set of private and public shareholders. As of June 30, 2016, 41.88 percent of Hikvision’s shares are jointly owned by China Electronics Technology HIK Group Co., Ltd. (CETHIK) and CETC No. 52 Research Institute, both are part of CETC, a stateowned enterprise; 18.28 percent is privately owned by Mr. Kung Hung Ka (a Hong Kong permanent resident); 8.48 percent is owned by the company’s founders and executives; and the remaining 31.36 percent is owned by A-shares investors; International institutional investors such as UBS AG and JP Morgan are among Hikvision’s top 10 shareholders. The Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect, which launched at the end of 2016 is enabling more foreign investors to buy Hikvision stock, which will make the shareholder structure even more diversified.”

Who is in charge of managing Hikvision?

“Hikvision’s management team, led by CEO, Mr. Hu Yangzhong, is responsible for the daily management and business operations of the global company, its long-term business plan and implementation of that plan.”

What did you think of the Times of London story in September, focusing on the possibility that the Chinese government has access to Hikvision cameras?

“Unfortunately, this particular Times of London story contained errors and omissions. Much of the reporting – and speculative quotes – were based on biased information supplied by an American blogger site that engages in name-calling and ridicule, publishes an inordinate amount of commentary from anonymous sources, and otherwise does not observe standard journalistic practices.”

How do you handle this negative news?

“As the No. 1 video surveillance provider, we expect occasional negative, sensationalist or biased reports. Of course, we try to answer any questions that may arise from this kind of article from legitimate news outlets such as yours, but mainly we are focused on running our business. We have created thousands of good jobs around the world in the regions where we do business and we have made significant, positive contributions to the communities where we do business. Helping security professionals combat terrorism and criminal behaviour is why we are in this business.”

Is cyber security a major concern for Hikvision?

“Cyber security is a major concern for all physical security manufacturers. Hikvision has established a sustainable and reliable cyber security assurance system that encompasses the company’s policies, organisational and operational procedures, technology and regulations. For example, we have a special task force at Hikvision headquarters, the Network and Information Security Lab, which sets Hikvision’s security standards, performs security evaluations and testing, and responds to security issues. We continue to take steps to improve our products, including having them tested by leading third-party cybersecurity firms to minimize any potential security risks.”

Want to read more about cyber security and video surveillance? Read the latest issue of Detektor International onlineClick here

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