Africa: Visual Surveillance and Weak Cyber Security, Part One - When Cameras Get Dangerous

TOP: CCTV cameras. Bottom-left: Chinese flag. Bottom-right: South African flag.

In 2019, 15,000 surveillance cameras will be connected to the Internet to monitor Joburg's streets 24/7. This is courtesy of video surveillance service provider Vumacam. But online cameras can be hacked - often quite easily. This is not only a threat to public safety, but can also place Internet services at risk. And the manufacturer of Vumacam's cameras, Hikvison, has a checkered cybersecurity history. Daily Maverick investigated and found that Hikvision's known cyber vulnerabilities may be just the tip of the iceberg.

With its total revenue for 2018 at around R107-billion, China's Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology currently leads the global video surveillance industry. Incorporated in 2001, Hikvision established a South African branch in 2015, and last year they opened a new office in Johannesburg.

But the partnership with Vumacam will see Hikvision's footprint in South Africa grow substantially, and Vumacam also hopes to establish surveillance networks throughout Cape Town in the future.

Vumacam's system uses Hikvision's IP cameras; each camera has a unique IP (internet protocol) address that identifies it on the Internet and allows it to "communicate" with other devices (just like any computer, modem, or smart TV connected to the net).

A residents' association can rent Vumacam's surveillance...


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