This week, the UK government announced that surveillance equipment made by companies subject to China’s National Intelligence Law, including Dahua and Hikvision, would have to be removed from “sensitive central government sites.”
In April, we found the UK had the third-highest number of Dahua and Hikvision camera networks in the world, according to results from Shodan.io.
Cabinet Office minister Jeremy Quin said, “These new measures will protect our sensitive sectors from companies which could threaten national security and are a firm deterrence to hostile actors who wish to do Britain harm.” The concern surrounding cameras stems from manufacturers like Dahua and Hikvision being governed by China’s National Intelligence Law. The law mandates that organizations must assist and support any intelligence work carried out by the state. This gives rise to concerns that the cameras could easily be hacked into, e.g. through a ‘back door’ that allows hackers to get into the networks.
But how many are there within each of the top 50 most populated cities in the UK?
We collated data from 50 UK cities and found more than 165,000 of these camera networks.
Manchester has the highest number of these camera networks per 1,000 people (13.67) and per square mile (152.15), with Preston and Leicester also having a higher rate per 1,000 people (10.83 and 10.27 respectively) than London (9.46). London does have the second-highest rate per square mile (150.45).
Shodan’s search engine results show the internet protocol (IP) addresses of each of these camera networks. As each camera network tends to house multiple cameras, it is likely our figures scratch the surface when it comes to the total number of Dahua and Hikvision cameras in operation in the UK.
Even though the new ruling will only apply to sensitive government sites, it does beg the question as to whether other consumers and businesses should be taking the risks into account when installing their own security systems.
Top 5 UK cities for Dahua & Hikvision camera networks
According to our findings, the following cities had the most camera networks in total:
- London = 91,317
- Birmingham = 8,488
- Manchester = 6,880
- Sheffield = 4,894
- Leeds = 4,710
These five cities were also home to the highest number of Hikvision camera networks, but Liverpool and Glasgow replaced Sheffield and Leeds in the top five for the number of Dahua cameras.
Top 5 UK cities for Dahua & Hikvision camera networks per 1,000 people
When it comes to the number of camera networks per 1,000 people, the top five do change quite significantly.
- Manchester: 6,880 camera networks to a population of 503,127 = 13.67 per 1,000 people
- Preston: 1,518 camera networks to a population of 140,202 = 10.83 per 1,000 people
- Leicester: 3,389 camera networks to a population of 329,839 = 10.27 per 1,000 people
- London: 91,317 camera networks to a population of 9,648,110 = 9.46 per 1,000 people
- Doncaster: 982 camera networks to a population of 110,000 = 8.93 per 1,000 people
Top 5 UK cities for Dahua & Hikvision camera networks per square mile
As we’ve already noted, Manchester remains at the top for the most Dahua and Hikvision camera networks per square mile.
- Manchester: 6,880 camera networks for 45 miles² = 152.15 cameras per square mile
- London: 91,317 camera networks for 607 miles² = 150.45 cameras per square mile
- Leicester: 3,389 camera networks for 28 miles² = 119.75 cameras per square mile
- Sheffield: 4,894 camera networks for 47 miles² = 103.47 cameras per square mile
- Liverpool: 4,129 camera networks for 43 miles² = 95.65 cameras per square mile
To find the number of camera networks per city, our team searched Shodan.io for Dahua and Hikvision results in each city. Our results don’t include Dahua and Hikvision OEMs, like the ones covered in our April study. This is due to there only being 1,417 camera networks from these OEMs across all of the UK.
Shodan.io is a search engine of internet-connected devices, showing a comprehensive list of all the devices and their internet protocol (IP) addresses alongside the city, country, server, type of device (e.g. IP camera), and other data.
Most of the results we found are for IP cameras and digital/network video recorders. In some cases, another type of internet-connected device may have been displayed in the results, such as a remote desktop, but we tried to exclude these if possible.
Our city sizes are taken from government sources, britannica.com, or worldpopulationreview.com, where we chose the area that correlated best with the population figures we have. Often, this is the metropolitan area rather than the city. Shodan’s citywide results includes cameras within these areas. For example, there are no results for Morecambe in Shodan.io, so these are likely covered under “Lancaster” city. Population demographics are from populationdata.org.uk