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Raising Awareness for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM): Hikvision Senior Cybersecurity Director on Pharming—A Malicious Hacking Attack

October 15, 2020

Hikvision HikWire blog article Pharming—A Malicious Hacking Attack

The 17th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) kicked off in October with the goal of raising cybersecurity awareness. To contribute to this goal, Hikvision senior director of cybersecurity, Chuck Davis, is providing insights on various cyberattacks to help you stay safe.

In today’s blog, Hikvision’s Davis will provide an overview of pharming—a malicious hacking attack—that includes tips to help you identify this scam and avoid becoming a victim to it.

What is Pharming?
Pharming is a type of cyberattack that redirects a website’s traffic to a malicious site that appears to be the real site. Pharming is used frequently in phishing attacks to trick a victim into sharing login credentials, banking information, or other sensitive data with the attacker.

It’s effective because a victim who visits the malicious website can see the valid domain name in their browser. The attacker must trick the victim’s computer into going to the malicious website by either making changes to the victim’s computer or somehow changing the destination IP address for a domain name. That’s typically achieved by altering or “poisoning” the victim’s DNS (domain name system) lookup.

How Does Pharming Work?
When you enter an address into your browser, your computer first checks for an IP address in a file on your computer called the hosts file. If it sees an entry in the hosts file for that website, it will go to that IP address. If your computer does not find an entry for that address in the hosts file, your browser will ask your computer’s default DNS server to look up the IP address of that website.

There are DNS servers all over the Internet and unless you specifically changed your DNS servers, you are probably using servers from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Once the DNS server comes back with an IP address, your browser can make the request to go to 172.217.11.228 and almost instantly, you will see the Google web page. So essentially, a pharming attack happens when an attacker is able to send the wrong IP address to the victim’s computer when it does a lookup.

How To Stay Safe from Pharming Attacks
Below are several tips that will help you boost cybersecurity and stay safe.

  • Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever it is available. This way if you do get tricked into sharing your credentials, the attacker would not be able to log into your real account.
     
  • Keep your router up to date. If your router doesn’t have automatic updates, consider replacing it with a new router that does update automatically
     
  • Change the DNS settings on your router and devices to an alternate, encrypted DNS such as Cloudflare's 1.1.1.1, IBM's 9.9.9.9, and Google DNS.
     
  • Follow standard anti-phishing recommendations.

Read the Hikvision pharming blog to learn more and view examples of pharming attacks: “Part 2: Hikvision Senior Director of Cybersecurity on Examples of Pharming—A Malicious Hacking Attack—and Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim.”

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:

https://techsupportca.freshdesk.com/en/support/solutions/articles/17000113531-i-series-nvr-firmware-upgrade-instructions

 

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

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.

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