by Stephen Bryen
The Wall Street Journal on November 13th, 2017 published an important article on Chinese security cameras used by the U.S. government and U.S. military in sensitive locations including the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri. The truth is that Chinese made cameras are all over the most sensitive sites in the military and government, sometimes sold under their Chinese brand name such as Hikvision, and sometimes re-branded by resellers. Many of these cameras have firmware built in from another Chinese source that has a serious backdoor for spying.
Knowing about this is nothing new. On September 3rd, 2016 I published an important article in American Thinker, US Kabul Embassy Buying Chinese Security Cameras.
Following this, the Voice of America published a follow up article (November 21, 2016) Is World’s Biggest Surveillance Camera Maker Sending Footage to China?
The State Department at first told the VOA reporter that they did not buy any cameras from Hikvision, a Chinese-owned company. Then they confessed, and told the reporter that the cameras were only installed in “closets.”
While the story about closets is suspect in and of itself, the State Department was only referring to their latest purchase of Hikvision cameras for that embassy, and perhaps for many others around the world. This they did not reveal, but the only justification for a sole source contract for the Kabul embassy is that they were matching new cameras to Hikvision cameras already installed on the site.
In any case, as noted in my 2016 American Thinker article, once a compromised camera is installed, the entire security network is exposed to hacking. As I wrote, “[The Hacker] can collect passwords, download data, circumvent firewalls, crash the entire system, or whatever he wants to do. He will be able to record the faces of personnel and visitors which he can use for a variety of purposes. He can test reaction times by staging events in front of select cameras facing the perimeter of a site. And he can also see how security cameras can be fooled and take advantage of these vulnerabilities in a subsequent physical attack against the facility.”
Cleaning up the security mess generated by these cameras will take some time, if it is ever done at all. And Hikvision is not the only problem because many other cameras use vulnerable code for their operation, also sourced in China.
If there is a single persistent thread that runs through America’s cyber security programs it is incredible sloppiness compounded by massive ignorance. How else can you explain the mass purchase of antivirus and anti-malware software from Moscow-based Kaspersky, myriad millions of Chinese computers and hardware, and finally cameras from China? It is a joke to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on supposed cyber remediation when, in fact, the fox not only is in the chicken coop, but he is getting a big Federal government paycheck.
Here are the original articles:
US Kabul Embassy Buying Chinese Security Cameras
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan has ordered security cameras from a Chinese-owned company,according to author John Honovich in his blog “To Inform is To Influence.” In the embassy solicitation, bidders are required to offer only cameras made by Hikvision, a company based in Hangzhou, China.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has long been targeted by the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Now, with ISIS active in Afghanistan, we can expect even more trouble there. Just this week there was a major bombing of the American University in Kabul, near the embassy, resulting in 12 dead and many more wounded.
Is the World’s Biggest Surveillance Camera Maker Sending Footage to China?