Chinese equipment poses espionage concern for Danish Navy

Surveillance cameras on two of Denmark’s biggest warships are a potential security issue, experts warn

Despite the US and other governments avoiding Chinese security and communication equipment over fears of espionage, the Danish Navy seems to have ignored taking similar precautions.

According to documents obtained by national broadcaster DR Nyheder, 88 security cameras from the Chinese firm Hikvision have been installed on two of Denmark’s biggest warships, the Absalon and the Esbern Snare.

Critics have pointed to Hikvision’s links to the Chinese government, and there are concerns that the technology could leak information to China’s intelligence agency.

“Theoretically, the cameras can be used to penetrate the ships’ systems through a back door. Or they can send location data, images or sound files to a foreign server owned by the Chinese state,” Jan Lemnitzer, an expert in cyber warfare at Copenhagen Business School, told DR Nyheder.

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Minister wants answers
The documents showed that 40 net-based Hikvision surveillance cameras were fitted to Esbern Snare in 2016, while 48 were installed on the Absalon in 2014.

Lars Findsen, the head of the Danish Defence Intelligence Service, recently called for vigilance when it comes to purchasing surveillance equipment from countries outside Denmark’s usual security circles.

Johan Sigholm, a researcher from the Swedish Defence University, contended that while Chinese products shouldn’t automatically be considered a security risk, they shouldn’t be used in sensitive areas.

The Defence Ministry has yet to act on the matter, but earlier this summer, the defence minister, Trine Bramsen, demanded an explanation regarding the use of Hikvision equipment in the Danish Defence.