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US Army base takes down Chinese-made security cameras

A security camera looks down to survey the area. (Free Use Image)
January 12, 2018

The U.S. Army has removed surveillance cameras made by a Chinese state-backed manufacturer from one of its military bases, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Five surveillance cameras made by Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. were replaced at Fort Leonard Wood, an Army base in Missouri.

A congressional committee plans to hold a hearing later this month to determine if small businesses are exposed to a cybersecurity risk after using the equipment.

Last November, The Wall Street Journal reported that several security system vendors will not use the equipment or will place restrictions on the purchase of the equipment because of concerns that it could be used to spy on the United States.

Screen Shot 2018 01 12 at 2.58.07 PM - US Army base takes down Chinese-made security cameras

House Committee on Small Business (Twitter)

Col. Christopher Beck, the base’s Chief of Staff, said the cameras are used to monitor roads and a parking lot.

“At no time did any of these cameras cover a high-security or high-security critical asset,” Beck said.

“We never believed [the cameras] were a security risk. They were always on a closed network,” Beck said, adding that the cameras were replaced to “remove any negative perception” about them following media reports.

A congressional committee will hold a scheduled hearing on Jan. 30 on the topic of “foreign cybersecurity threats to small businesses,” according to a committee spokesperson.

Rep. Steve Chabot, the Chairman of the House Committee on Small Business, said he is concerned because of the Chinese government’s 42-percent ownership in Hikvision.

“You have a company here, Hikvision, in which the Chinese government has a major controlling interest, making a significant portion of the world’s surveillance cameras,” Chabot told The Wall Street Journal. “It is a significant concern that Beijing could use these cameras to essentially spy on us,” he added, though he didn’t offer evidence this is happening.

Hikvision insists that their cameras are secure and that the company hasn’t been accused of spying on America for the Chinese government.

A Hikvision spokeswoman said the company “believes the products it builds and distributes around the world must meet the highest standards of not only quality but also security. We stand by our products and processes.”

Hikvision says the majority of their cameras are sold by third party distributors and the company can’t access the cameras after being sold.

The company also said the government-owned shareholder of China Electronics Technology Group Co. is not involved in Hikvision’s day-to-day operations.