47 cameras from the controversial Chinese technology company HikVision are used in the Danish city of Kolding to monitor its citizens. The company is banned in the US on suspicion of espionage, but Kolding Municipality is not worried that the Chinese government is watching, JydskeVestkysten reports.
Since 2018, the center of Kolding has been monitored, and now the municipality has as many as 447 surveillance cameras placed on the street corners and at selected positions. 47 of those cameras come from one of the world’s largest manufacturers of surveillance equipment, Chinese HikVision.
The manufacturer supplies equipment of the highest quality, but it also carries a security risk, according to IT security expert Peter Kruse from CSIS Security Group.
To JydskeVestkysten he says that Chinese companies are under some obligations to hand over whatever the Chinese authorities may be interested in. One must therefore be extra careful when dealing with Chinese companies especially on a large scale as here.
That is why HikVision has been banned in, among other places, the USA, where there is concern that the cameras may be used for espionage.
“HikVision has developed some really nice and competitive surveillance cameras and solutions, which are under the Chinese government, and which – with the technology they have – will be able to collect information about all conceivable citizens and all conceivable guests in the areas where the cameras are located,” Peter Kruse explains
Peter Kruse notes that China has some of the most well-developed technology in the field of face recognition which is one of the reasons why many people think HikVision is an exciting product. But face recognition can be a risk because you can designate a given face that the HikVision system must look for if the person passes one of the Chinese cameras, and with cameras in several countries around the world, it can pose a security risk.
“Potentially it is a ticking bomb if you have not considered who has access to the equipment and who can make changes to it. It is a potential privacy challenge and the cameras can also be turned against the owners themselves,” Peter Kruse says.
But even though the surveillance manufacturer seems to be exposed to a security risk, its products are not illegal in Denmark and the Center for Cyber Security has not warned against HikVision – but they have not blue-stamped the Chinese tech giant either.
According to Chris B. Nørregaard, IT and digitalization manager at Kolding Municipality, there is no cause for concern however. He explains that risk assessments have been made and the equipment is safe as long as you keep the cameras running on a closed network.
HikVision cameras in Kolding run on a separate and isolated network and that way you have full control over the cameras, he says.