We learned recently of the phase-out of the highly reliable DDNS service for Axis IP cameras called axiscam.net (or Axis Internet Dynamic DNS Service). New registrations to the service were turned off in early April 2020 and all existing usage will be closed by the end of 2020.
As the announcement of the free service closure came somewhat out of the blue, our Technical Director, Kevin Bowyer, spoke with one of Axis's technical managers to understand the motivations for ending the service.
Axiscam.net was a useful service built-in to camera firmware which enabled Axis IP cameras on typically domestic internet connections with dynamic public IP addresses to be contactable via a single, never-changing, DNS address. The service was for some time very highly used, not least because setting up and managing it had been made very simple by Axis since its release. We at NW have had many customers over the years dependent on the service and its utility for remote access to their cameras. Often spread out over 2 or more locations or even countries. It became more useful in recent years as the free DDNS providers such as DynDNS moved to paid-for business models and many router manufacturers began to remove support for these services. By 2020 the options for Dynamic DNS, even as the last IPv4 IP addresses are being issued, have dwindled to only a handful of providers.
As cameras matured and new services for remote access arose it became inevitable that the DDNS service would wane in its popularity and this happened. Nevertheless, it was still a vital service for some.
In comes cyber security – with the art of innovation and the benefit of time and technical advancement, now is the time to embrace a more secure approach. Whilst DDNS services are low risk for applications like axiscam.net, when we consider device hardening, a more sophisticated approach that supports the secure deployment and management of these devices is readily available and should be adopted in line with Axis' cybersecurity approach.
Remote access techniques have moved on as security becomes more and more important and nowadays remote access is achieved through secure tunnelling and connection despatching techniques which are inherently more secure and manageable for service providers and do not expose cameras to the public internet. However, these systems require closer tie-in with camera firmware in order to maintain security and this results in higher complexity.
Low security solutions like DDNS don't fit into the increasing security picture for camera vendors like Axis who continue to offer value-add services on top of their hardware and they become more and more costly to maintain as fewer and fewer people are using them. The business case for keeping them going just disappears.
Axis acknowledge that Axiscam.net was a useful service of its time, but state that by the time its closure was announced the number of cameras using the system was tiny by comparison to its earlier heights.
If you were affected by the closure of Axiscam.net and are still at the mercy of dynamic public IPs, there are some options:
Paid-for DDNS services like Dyn.com
While these services are now few and far between, there remain a few. Dyn is one we have used and can recommend. No-IP is another. Check first whether your router supports the service you would like to use.
Axis Secure Remote Access
This can be used with either Axis Camera Station (ACS) or Axis Companion (AC). Here the application negotiates an address-free connection to Axis' servers and you gain access to your camera through the ACS or AC application.
It is clear that the Axiscam.net service will be discontinued at the end of 2020, so please contact us if you are affected by this and would like help finding a solution.