Coronavirus or Computer Virus: Hikvision Senior Director of Cybersecurity on Phishing Hacks and Malware, and Tips to Avoid Them

March 11, 2020

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In this blog, Hikvision Senior Director of Cybersecurity Chuck Davis discusses phishing hacks and malware related to the coronavirus, and tips to avoid them.

As the COVID-19 coronavirus becomes a global concern, cybercriminals are leveraging this tragedy to spread their own kind of virus and digital attacks to prey on the fears of people around the world.

What is Happening?
Attackers are using phishing campaigns to target businesses and individuals. One example, reported by BleepingComputer, shows how  scammers created a phishing email with World Health Organization (WHO) logos in an effort to trick recipients into clicking a link that supposedly will give them online training but in fact, asks them to create an account on their imposter site. When the person "creates an account" the scammers now have an email address and a password that they can use to try and log into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Gmail, Office365 and any other site they can think of. They do this because people tend to reuse passwords across multiple accounts. This is known as a credential stuffing attack.

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Bleeping Computer example of a credential-stealing phishing email that is crafted to look like it comes from the World Health Organization

The WHO is not the only organization that is being spoofed. Last week, researchers at cybersecurity company, COFENSE reported the following phishing campaign that appears to be from the CDC. The email subject, "COVID-19 - Now Airborne, Increased Community Transmission" creates a sense of fear and urgency. The body of the email states that, "...three new cases have been confirmed around your area today" and provides a link to the CDC website for more information.

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Cofense example of phishing email that looks to be sent from the CDC.

If someone clicks on that link (and many will) it redirects the victim to an Outlook-themed landing page that is hosted by the attacker. When the victim enters their Microsoft credentials, the page redirects the victim to the actual CDC site so the victim is unaware that they just gave away their login credentials to the attacker.

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Cofense example of malicious Outlook-themed login page that is managed by the phishing attacker.

However, not all attackers are phishing for your login credentials. Some of them want to access your computer.

Last week, Threatpost reported that one malware campaign was using a COVID-19-themed phishing attacks to trick victims into installing malware. The attackers sent a phishing email with a PDF attachment that offers tips on coronavirus safety. When the pdf file is opened, named “CoronaVirusSafetyMeasures_pdf,” it installs a remote access Trojan (RAT) which gives the attacker full remote access to the victim's computer without the victim knowing it.

Earlier this week, cybersecurity reporter Graham Cluley wrote about security researchers at Malwarebytes who have found malicious code in a website that, "appears to have copied the look-and-feel of a legitimate Coronavirus map from Johns Hopkins University." The malicious code skims the victim's computer for passwords and payment card details.

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Finally, Bleeping Computer reported that researchers from MalwareHunterTeam, "found a three-page Coronavirus-themed Microsoft Office document containing malicious macros, pretending to be from the Center for Public Health of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, and designed to drop a backdoor malware with clipboard stealing, keylogging, and screenshot capabilities." The picture below shows the malicious document and the malicious macros that are embedded in that document.

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What Can You Do?
These phishing attacks are no different than the ones you get in your inbox regularly. They are just preying on a timely circumstance.

  1. Remember that your Inbox is a dangerous place. It is the easiest and most effective way for an attacker to get past your home or company's firewall and network security.  
  2. Understand basic and advanced phishing attacks by reading this Hikvision blog on the subject.
  3. Read the Federal Trade Commission's tips on Identifying and reporting COVID-19 scams
  4. Read the World Health Organization's tips on identifying and reporting scams.
  5. The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) recommends the following ways to minimize your chances of becoming a victim of phishing attacks:
  • Filter spam
  • Don’t trust unsolicited email
  • Treat email attachments with caution
  • Don’t click links in email messages
  • Install antivirus software and keep it up to date
  • Install a personal firewall and keep it up to date
  • Configure your email client for security

Phishing is used in 90 percent of data security breaches and is the leading method that attackers use to gain access to home and company networks and systems. While you may want to donate to a charity or learn about updates on the spread of COVID-19, be sure to go to trusted websites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization directly. Don’t get there by clicking on links in email, in order to prevent becoming a victim of phishing hacks and malware.


IMPORTANT! This model requires non-standard firmware. Do Not Install standard firmware (e.g. v.4.1.xx) on this model. Doing so will permanently damage your system. You must use custom firmware v.4.1.25 from the iDS-9632NXI-I8/16S product page.

View the most updated version of this document here:


The I-series NVR (such as the DS-7716NI-I4) is one of Hikvision's most popular and feature-rich recorders. As such, many firmware revisions have been introduced over the years to continually ensure the product is compatible with the newest technology available. Due to the many revisions, we recommend that the user closely follows the instructions below in order to reduce the amount of time spent as well as the chance of failure.


Database Optimization and Repair

As more affordable IP cameras are introduced over time with greater video resolution and data sizes, more efficient database management also becomes necessary. The introduction of firmware v4.0 brought about a new database architecture in order to be futureproof.


After upgrading to v4.X, the recorder database will need to be converted and optimized. If you are experiencing issues where playback is expected but not found, make sure "Database Repair" is performed as indicated in the procedures and scenarios below.


Preparing the Upgrade

Before proceeding with upgrade, it is recommended that NVR configuration file is exported from the NVR over the network or on to a local USB drive.


Upgrading from v3.4.92 build 170518 or Older

  1. All recorders must reach v3.4.92 before proceeding further. Upgrading from versions before v3.4.92 directly to any version of v4.X will likely cause the recorder to fail.
  2. If the recorder is already at v3.4.92, a full factory default is highly recommended before upgrading to any version of v4.X. There is a high chance of unit failure (requiring RMA) if the unit is not defaulted before upgrade.
  3. After reaching v3.4.92 and performing a full factory default, an upgrade directly to v4.50.00 is acceptable.
  4. After the upgrade is completed and the recorder is reprogrammed, it may be beneficial to perform a Database Repair. For details, refer to the section "Database Optimization and Repair" above.
  5. To verify repair progress, you may refer to the HDD status, or search the recorder log for repair started and stopped entries. Note that while the HDD is repairing, new recordings are still being made, but some existing recordings may not be searchable until repair is complete.
  6. If you continue to observe playback issues after database repair, ensure there are no power, network, or motion detection issues. Should the problem persist, contact technical support.


Upgrading from Any v4.X Build to v4.50.00.

  1. Any v4.X build can be upgraded directly to v4.50.00.
  2. Export configuration is highly recommended before performing the upgrade.
  3. If upgrading from any v4.X version that was not v4.22.005, a Database Repair is recommended. Refer to Step 4 and onwards in the previous section.



Downgrading is not recommended. Due to new features and parameters constantly being added, downgrading may cause the NVR to factory default itself or require a manual default to operate properly.

View the most updated version of this document here:
K-Series DVR upgrade instruction
The Turbo 4 Hybrid DVR K series has multiple models and across different platform and chipset. It also has similar firmware development of other recording product line; DVR K series has also introduced the GUI4.0 to ensure the series to be compatible to the newest technology available. The new database architecture is also brought into the DVR firmware v4.0 to be future proof and for better recording search experience. 

Database Optimization and Repair

As more affordable cameras introduced over time with greater video resolution and data sizes, more efficient database management also becomes necessary. The introduction of firmware v4.0 brought about a new database architecture in order to be futureproof.
After upgrading to v4.X, the recorder database will need to be converted and optimize. If you are experiencing issues, where playback is expected but not found, please make sure to perform "Database Rebuild" as indicated in the procedures and scenarios below.

Preparing the Upgrade

Before proceeding with upgrade, it is recommend exporting DVR configuration file from the DVR over the network or on to a local USB drive.


Action after firmware upgraded 

1. Upgrade the DVR according to the chart above. 

2. Reconfirming Channel's Recording Schedule 

    - Confirm channel's recording schedule is enable. 

    - Check if the channel is on correct recording schedule.

3. Double Check Storage Setting

    - Make sure all channel are assigned to record on its HDD group when the Storage setting is under Group Mode. 

4. Perform Database Rebuild locally. 

    • Some version above support Database Rebuild via web access - K51 and K72

    • Perform Database Rebuild regardless if system is having any database issue symptom. 

    • Database Rebuild process is average ~30 to 60min per TB. The process may still varies depends recording data.

    • After Database Rebuild - Check log to confirm Database Rebuild has went thru properly. 

    • If Database Rebuild Started and Stopped log has been log only within few minutes. Database rebuild may not has been completed properly. It is strongly recommend performing the Database Rebuild again.

    • To check log > System > Log > Information > Database Rebuild Started and Stopped.

    • If the log option is not available - access system via SSH can also obtain similar result.

5. Recording Data is still missing after database rebuild process. 

If the data has not been recorded or has been overwritten, Database rebuild process is not able retrieve those lost data. Have the system upgraded to the latest available firmware version above to prevent any future data lost is strongly recommended for all application.





In light of the global semiconductor shortage, Hikvision has made some hardware changes to the DS-76xxNI-Q1(2)/P NVRs, also known as “Q series.”


These changes do not have any effect on the performance, specifications, or the user interface of the NVRs. For the ease of reference, these modified units are known as “C-Version” units. This is clearly indicated on the NVR label and on the box by the serial number.


The only difference between the “C-Version” and “non-C-Version” is the firmware. The firmware is not interchangeable:


  • The C-Version NVRs must use firmware version v4.31.102 or higher.
  • The non-C-Version (Q series) NVRs must use firmware version v4.30.085 or older.


Please do not be alarmed if a “Firmware Mismatch” message pops up on the screen during the firmware upgrade. This simply means that the firmware does not match the NVR’s hardware. Simply download the correct firmware and the upgrade will go through without any issue.

By downloading and using software and other materials available via this website, you agree to be legally bound by HIKVISION General Terms of Use . If you don’t agree to these terms, you may not download or use any of those materials.

If you are agreeing on behalf of your company, you represent and warrant that you have legal authority to bind your company to the General Terms of Use above. Also you represent and warrant that you are of the legal age of majority in the jurisdiction in which you reside (at least 18 years of age in many countries).