Army base pulls Chinese security cameras over 'negative perception'

The actual security risk is taking a backstage to public image.

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Jon Fingas
January 15, 2018 8:33 AM
Benjamin Faske, Flickr
Benjamin Faske, Flickr

If it wasn't already clear that concerns over the security of Chinese equipment are reaching a fever pitch, it is now. The US Army has pulled five of Hikvision's surveillance cameras from Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri not because they pose an active security risk (they were on a closed network and monitored the roads), but because it's worried about the "negative perception" following media reports. Hikvision is 42 percent owned by the Chinese government, which has previously raised concerns that they might be used to spy on American operations.

There had been concerns about security holes in some cameras' firmware, but Hikvision made patches available within a week of learning of the flaws. It has routinely promised that its cameras are secure, and that its state-owned shareholder doesn't have a say over its daily affairs. It hasn't been formally accused of spying.

Not this will reassure everyone. The House Committee on Small Business is planning a hearing on January 30th where it will discuss internet security risks for small business, and it's singling out Hikvision for security questions. Whether or not there's any merit to the suspicions, it's clear that even the slightest hint of a Chinese government connection is enough to raise security fears in the current American climate.

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