Despite any negativity you may hear, Hikvision is optimistic about their role in the U.S. market. “We demonstrate that we can be trusted, and that we should be trusted,” says Jeffrey He, Vice President, Hikvision, and President, Hikvision USA and Hikvision Canada. “We have sound products and technology. Our mission in the security industry is to protect, not to harm. Otherwise why would we be in this industry?”
Hikvision is committed to investing in the North American market, where there was ‘positive year-over-year growth’ in 2018 and ‘strong’ sales in Q1 this year, according to Eric Chen, General Manager of Hikvision USA and Hikvision Canada.
HikCentral central management software
The company’s U.S. focus is shifting from products to solution sales, with emphasis on ‘mid-market’ small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The largest verticals are retail and education, and there are emerging opportunities in the cannabis market. Launch of the HikCentral central management software (CMS) is a component of the company’s solution-sales approach.
Launch of the HikCentral central management software is a component of the company’s solution-sales approachMr. He acknowledges the growth of ‘anti-China sentiment’ in the United States and other parts of the world, which he says will impact Hikvision’s operations globally. Specifically, in the U.S., ‘political’ elements impacting Hikvision’s business include ongoing tariffs and a trade war, Congressional calls for export controls and sanctions, and a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that bans use of Chinese video surveillance products in government applications.
Specifying cybersecurity initiatives at ISC West
In spite of it all, Hikvision’s message at the recent ISC West show was overwhelmingly positive, and the company also detailed cybersecurity initiatives they say put the Chinese company ahead of many competitors in the industry.
Eric Chen came in as General Manager last year; he previously spent a decade working for Hikvision in China. Chen reports solid 18.8% year-over-year growth for Hikvision globally, totalling $7.4 billion last year. He notes the company saw 40% compounded growth between 2010 and 2018.
Globally, there are 34,000 employees, 16,000 of whom are research and development (R&D) engineers. Hikvision’s expanding global footprint includes 46 international branches. There are three manufacturing facilities in China, in addition to one in India.
HikRewards program for HDP customers
At ISC West, Hikvision’s theme was ‘Focus on Your Success’, including introduction of the HikRewards program that provides rebates to HDP (Hikvision Dealer Partner) customers, their core dealer base. A new online Hikvision Knowledge Library for HDPs provides training and reference materials dealers can share with employees. A new tech centre, introduced in December, provides data sheets, product information, and support resources. There is also a North American R&D team headquartered in Montreal.
At the industry’s largest U.S. trade show, Hikvision unveiled a brand-new booth with plenty of open space and video walls
A customer satisfaction survey launched in March provided good feedback from customers. “They know who to call if they have a problem,” says Chen. “We want to focus on making customers successful.” The success theme also extends to Hikvision employees, who are featured in videos describing their jobs and enthusiasm for Hikvision. There are some 400 employees in the North American operation.
At the industry’s largest U.S. trade show, Hikvision unveiled a brand-new booth with plenty of open space and video walls. Half of the booth was focussed on solutions, especially retail and education, and also gaming and commercial real estate.
Security products displayed at ISC West
A variety of devices, including access control, intercoms and cameras, are integrated using the HikCentral CMS systemProduct highlights at the ISC West booth included the 32-megapixel PanoVu multi-sensor dome camera, whose 180-degree panoramic image was displayed on a 65-inch monitor. A variety of devices, including access control, intercoms and cameras, are integrated using the HikCentral CMS system. Some products new to the North American market, including intercoms, turnstiles, emergency call stations, and under-vehicle inspection, were displayed.
Hikvision’s deep learning products are moving into their second generation, including the ability to obscure private information on videos to comply with GDPR/privacy requirements (previewed at ISC West and released later in the year).
Algorithm components of Hikvision’s DeepInMind artificial intelligence are being adapted into a platform called AcuSense for value-priced products, which can recognise a human or vehicle and help filter out false alarms. Also being adapted to products with lower price points are the ColorVu system that incorporates visible light LEDs to provide colour images at night, and DarkFighter low-light capabilities.
Penetration testing of cameras and NVRs
As a global manufacturer, Hikvision faces a high level of scrutiny about cybersecurity, which Mr. Chen says is “a good thing for us,” enabling them to highlight the steps they are taking to improve cybersecurity. Chuck Davis, Director of Cybersecurity, outlined specific milestones Hikvision has achieved in its quest to provide world-class cybersecurity.
Chuck Davis, Director of Cybersecurity, outlined specific milestones Hikvision has achieved in its quest to provide world-class cybersecurity
In September 2017, Hikvision began working with third parties (including Rapid7) for penetration testing (ethical hacking) of its cameras and recorders. That same month, Hikvision set up a Cybersecurity Hotline open to anyone with questions about cybersecurity, including white-hat hackers and researchers. Even before that, Hikvision had an open-door policy on cybersecurity and a program for patching and disclosing responsibility.
In February of 2018, Hikvision released a 40-page Cybersecurity White Paper describing cybersecurity testing and processes built into the software development lifecycle. That same month, Hikvision launched an Opened Source Code Transparency Center and offered an open invitation to anyone wanting to inspect Hikvision’s source code and let them know of any vulnerabilities.
FIPS 140-2 certification by NIST
Hikvision has also become a Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) Numbering Authority (CNA), which ensures their patching and incident reporting programs have been reviewed by a CNA partnering company.
Hikvision's encryption module (HIKSSL) received Level 1 FIPS 140-2 certification to be used in both IP cameras and NVRsIn August, Hikvision received Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 certification, a U.S. government encryption standard created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Hikvision's encryption module (HIKSSL) received Level 1 FIPS 140-2 certification to be used in both IP cameras and NVR products.
Davis said the FIPS 140-2 certification process began before the NDAA ban on use of Hikvision products in the U.S. government, and in any case is a standard that ensures a high level of encryption. “We wanted to make sure we had the same level of technology,” he says. “It was not to win over the government.”
Making industry more cybersecure
“We are really trying to have third parties test and certify our equipment,” adds Davis. “We are trying to be open and transparent. Education and awareness are key.”
“We need the trust of customers in the security community,” says Mr. He. “No matter what, we have to follow the highest standards to offset the concerns and accusations.”
In April 2018, Davis became a member of the Security Industry Association (SIA) Cybersecurity Advisory Board to help make the entire industry more cybersecure through education, awareness and standards. Hikvision has also joined the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST at first.org), a global cybersecurity incident response consortium that cooperatively handles computer security incidents and promotes incident prevention programs.
Davis has presented Cybersecurity Road Shows in 22 cities in the United States and Canada, and also in Australia and New Zealand. The 90-minute presentations focus on education awareness around cybersecurity and seek to get attendees engaged and aware about cybersecurity in business and also in their homes.