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Physical Security Industry

NDAA Compliance for Security Camera Systems

Stu Waters
Jun 25, 2024

Introduction

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a U.S. federal regulation that has far-reaching implications for the global technology and security sectors. One of its most significant impacts is on the video surveillance industry, particularly concerning IP security cameras. The NDAA prohibits the use of certain equipment and components from specific manufacturers deemed a threat to national security. This article delves into the importance of NDAA compliance for IP cameras and why consumers and businesses should prioritize NDAA-compliant camera systems to ensure security and regulatory adherence.

List of Vendors with NDAA-Compliant Security Camera Systems

  1. Coram AI
  2. Axis Communications
  3. Rhombus Systems
  4. Cisco Meraki
  5. Avigilon Unity
  6. Avigilon Alta
  7. Verkada
  8. Bosch Security Systems
  9. Hanwha Techwin America
  10. ACTi Corporation
  11. Digital Watchdog

What are the NDAA Regulation?

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a U.S. federal law that outlines the budget and expenditures for the government agency: U.S. Department of Defense. In recent years, the NDAA has included provisions prohibiting certain technology equipment and services from specific manufacturers, primarily those based in China. These prohibitions are due to concerns over national security and the potential for foreign espionage.

Where did NDAA come from?

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) is integral to the development and passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), overseeing the Department of Defense and shaping defense policy and budget allocations. The SASC drafts, reviews, and amends the NDAA through hearings and markup sessions, then reports it to the Senate for debate and voting. After both the Senate and House pass their versions, a conference committee reconciles differences to produce a final bill for Presidential approval. This process ensures the NDAA addresses national security needs and strategic priorities effectively​

NDAA Camera Compliance and the HiSilicon Chipset

The NDAA has prioritized video surveillance and security cameras, making it crucial for U.S. organizations, especially those working with the U.S. federal government, to ensure their surveillance equipment is compliant. Fundamentally, any camera that includes a chipset from HiSilicon is not NDAA compliant. Notable vendors that have used HiSilicon chipsets in their products include: 

  • Hikvision
  • Dahua
  • Lorex
  • Amcrest

Before making a purchase, always check if the cameras are NDAA compliant to prevent risk of cybersecurity attacks.

NDAA Cameras and the Global Tech Landscape

Over the past several years, the U.S. and China have been engaged in a series of regulatory sanctions regarding data captured by hardware and software products. The U.S. Congress banned government use of telecommunications equipment by specified Chinese manufacturers in 2018 due to concerns over politically motivated cyberattacks. In 2020, the House of Representatives approved the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act, which regulates purchasing connected devices based on cybersecurity features and vulnerabilities.

Why NDAA Camera Compliance is Important

Federal Funding: Any organization acting as a contractor for any federal agency must comply with NDAA's prohibitions to receive any funding from the federal government.‍

Global Implications: NDAA's effects are felt globally. Businesses with U.S.-based headquarters might be advised by their parent companies to avoid blacklisted manufacturers.

Trust and Security: NDAA compliance is a benchmark for security and trustworthiness.

Enhanced Cybersecurity: NDAA-compliant products have enhanced cybersecurity features.

NDAA Compliant Camera Chipsets

After determining the manufacturer of the cameras and recorders, it's essential to identify who manufactures the chipset or the 'brains' of the security camera system. Under the brand HiSilicon, Huawei is the world's largest distributor of chips to the surveillance industry, which has been banned under the NDAA due to security concerns.

When selecting a vendor for IP cameras, ensuring that the chipset is NDAA-compliant is crucial. Some examples of alternative NDAA-compliant chips include Ambarella, MStar, SigmaStar, and Intel. These manufacturers provide secure, high-performance chipsets that meet the rigorous standards set by the NDAA.

Ambarella

Ambarella is known for its advanced image processing and video compression technologies. Their chipsets are widely used in high-definition security cameras, offering robust performance and excellent image quality. Learn more about Ambarella.

MStar

MStar provides a range of chipsets designed for various applications, including security cameras. Their solutions emphasize low power consumption and high efficiency, making them a popular choice for many surveillance systems. Explore MStar's offerings.

SigmaStar

SigmaStar focuses on developing innovative and cost-effective semiconductor solutions for video processing and image analysis. Their chipsets are used in various security applications, providing reliable performance and compliance with NDAA standards. Discover SigmaStar.

Intel

Intel is a well-known leader in semiconductor technology, providing high-performance chipsets that are used in many advanced security systems. Their solutions offer robust security features and excellent processing capabilities, ensuring compliance with NDAA requirements. Find out more about Intel's chipsets.

Vendor Selection in the Age of NDAA Cameras

Choosing a vendor in today's uncertain environment requires thorough evaluation. It is essential to evaluate vendors based on their compliance with Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. Additionally, understanding where hardware and software components are sourced from is crucial. 

Coram AI IP cameras avoid the chipsets banned under NDAA, and hence, Coram AI IP cameras are NDAA compliant. Furthermore, Coram Point (cloud NVR for IP cameras) has two ethernet ports. This means the customers can isolate cameras on a separate LAN that is not exposed to the internet. You should also consider whether the video security vendors are audited for cyber security vulnerabilities under SOC2 Type II. Coram AI is SOC2 Type II audited. 

Conclusion

In an era where cybersecurity threats are rampant and the integrity of video surveillance data is paramount, NDAA compliance offers a layer of assurance. It ensures that the products being used are free from potential foreign governmental interference and meet high cybersecurity standards. For businesses and consumers alike, purchasing NDAA compliant security camera systems is a step towards a more secure and trustworthy surveillance infrastructure.

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