It may not be a household name in the US, but many Americans have surely come under the gaze of a product made by the Chinese company Hikvision. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Hikvision is the No. 2 seller of surveillance equipment in the US and is No. 1 in Europe. The story isn't a business feature, however. It raises the question of whether having all of these security cameras hanging around the US poses a security risk. For example, Hikvision is used to monitor the Army base Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, and the Memphis Police Department also is a customer. Hikvision cameras even rolled at the US Embassy in Kabul until the government canceled the contract last year and removed the devices.
The risk? Worst case, the company, perhaps at the behest of the government in Beijing, is able to access anything captured by the cameras through some secret back door. Company officials dismiss this as absurd. In a lesser scenario, hackers (state-backed or otherwise) take advantage of flaws to hijack the system. In fact, the Homeland Security Department identified one such vulnerability that could be exploited in such a way in some Hikvision devices, though the company says it has since patched the glitch. Just don't expect the devices to go away anytime soon. "At the end of the day, they are the No. 1 camera manufacturer in the world," says a Memphis police lieutenant. "They make a lot of cameras and many people use them, even if they don't say Hikvision on the product." Click for the full story. (Read more security cameras stories.)