China’s surveillance technology company Hikvision is facing fresh scrutiny in Europe, where its high-tech cameras are criticized for posing security risks.
According to Politico, a security researcher has found a glitch in Hikvision’s cameras that “permits an attacker to gain full control of the device,” and concluded that the products had “the highest level of critical vulnerability.”
The glitch added more trouble to Hikvision as the Chinese firm has been under scrutiny over its data practices when it acknowledged a vulnerability in the surveillance cameras and instructed the users to install new software on the affected devices.
According to Conor Healy, director of security research group IPVM, gaining access to the cameras’ data is an easy hack to perform.
“Something to understand about these surveillance cameras is that they’re computers, not just cameras. They’re sophisticated devices,” he said.
The research group predicted that Hikvision’s vulnerability could impact more than 100 million cameras around the globe.
Hikvision, like other Chinese technology companies, has been quizzed by European authorities over how it protects data gathered in Europe and is suspected of collaborating with the Chinese communist regime to keep their people under surveillance and violate human rights there.
In the United States, Hikvision remains on the blacklist due to its alleged ties to the Chinese military.
With the vulnerability, Hikvision faces charges of lax security and its data practices and ties to the Chinese regime.
Some officials in Europe have been calling for a stop to deals with Hikvision. Axel Voss, a member of the European Parliament, said Europe should be cautious about allowing foreign powers too much control over systems, warning of “possibilities to attack us on where it might be very sensitive.”
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which monitors Hikvision’s activities, revealed that the Chinese company’s systems gather a lot of personal data.
“The primary concern is that it doesn’t stay within the country, that it’s not bound to the laws and regulations of your country. Because of [China’s] laws and regulation that Chinese companies are required to hand over to government authorities, that becomes the concern,” said Audrey Fritz, a researcher at the institute.
According to Politico, some governments have accused Hikvision of collaborating with Chinese authorities to use facial recognition technology to track and suppress the Muslim Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang region, subsequently violating human rights.
In efforts to restrict Hikvision’s technology, the U.K. parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee in July called for a ban on its equipment, but the parliament has not yet passed it.
U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 also passed a bill to ban the government’s use of Hikvision’s products. In 2019, U.S. lawmakers put the Chinese company on a sanctions list, blocking U.S. companies from selling to it due to human rights and security concerns.