Outdated firmware placing security cameras at risk of cyber attack

Outdated camera firmware and the failure to change default passwords are two of the biggest weaknesses when it comes to organisations’ cyber security defences in the surveillance arena. As the number of interconnected security devices continues to grow, keeping pace with the latest updates can be both tricky and time-consuming. According to new research* conducted by Genetec, as many as 68.4% (or almost seven out of ten) of cameras are currently running out-of-date firmware.

Installing the latest firmware isn’t just about accessing exciting new features, urges the unified security and business intelligence specialist. It also ensures the latest cyber security protection measures are implemented as soon as they become available, which is a crucial step towards realising an organisation’s resilience against cyber attack.

“Our primary research data points to the fact that more than half of the cameras with out-of-date firmware (53.9%) contain known cyber security vulnerabilities,” said Mathieu Chevalier, lead security architect at Genetec. “By extrapolating this to an average security network, nearly four out of every ten surveillance cameras are vulnerable to a cyber attack.”

The research conducted by Genetec also shows that nearly one-in-four organisations (23%) fail to use unique passwords, relying instead on the same password across all cameras from the same manufacturer, leaving an easy point of entry for hackers as soon as only one camera has been compromised.

Until recently, IP cameras were supplied with default security settings, including admin login information that’s often publicly available on the manufacturers’ websites. While most camera manufacturers now request end users to set up a new password and admin credentials at installation, businesses and Government organisations with older equipment never updated their passwords, potentially compromising the other critical data and systems that reside on their network.

“Unfortunately, our research shows that the ‘set it and forget it’ mentality remains prevalent, putting an entire organisation’s security and people’s privacy at risk,” added Chevalier. “All it takes is one camera with obsolete firmware or a default password to create a foothold for an attacker to compromise the whole network. It’s therefore critical that today’s organisations should be as proactive in the update of their physical security systems as they are in updating their IT networks.”

*Research conducted on a sample of 44,763 cameras connected to systems that are part of the Genetec opt-in product improvement programme

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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