The U.S. Army said it removed surveillance cameras made by a Chinese state-backed manufacturer from a domestic military base, while a congressional committee plans to hold a hearing this month into whether small businesses face cybersecurity risks from using the equipment.
Fort Leonard Wood, an Army base in Missouri’s Ozarks, replaced five cameras on the base branded and made by Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., said Col. Christopher Beck, the base’s chief of staff. He said officials at the base acted after reading media reports about the company.
“We never believed [the cameras] were a security risk. They were always on a closed network,” Col. Beck said. The decision to replace the cameras was meant to “remove any negative perception” surrounding them following media reports, he added, without elaborating.
A Wall Street Journal article in November highlighted the prevalence in the U.S. of devices made by Hikvision, the world’s largest maker of surveillance cameras, which is 42% owned by the Chinese government. The Journal reported that some security-system vendors in the U.S. refuse to carry Hikvision cameras or place restrictions on their purchase, concerned they could be used by Beijing to spy on Americans.
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.”
A Defense Department spokesman said the Hikvision cameras at Fort Leonard Wood weren’t connected to the military network. He said the department is conducting a review of all network-connected cameras on the base to ensure they are “in compliance with all security updates.” The spokesman declined to comment on whether Hikvision cameras are in use at other military facilities.