Surveillance cameras have become a staple part of security. They are now essential parts of home and commercial security. These cameras are highly valued because they help give users a wider range of protection, which allows them to view all aspects of their home or business on one screen. In addition to this, one of its most valued features is the ability for recording and playback. Surveillance cameras allow users to view and record footage that might have transpired in their absence, and this is invaluable to security. These cameras aid in commercial loss prevention, burglary prevention, etc.
However, as technology continues to advance, the safeguards that are in place for surveillance cameras are gradually becoming obsolete. Most recently, a lot of foundational home security products have come under intense scrutiny because of their susceptibility to hacking, and surveillance cameras are no exception. But the future is not so bleak. As long as the vulnerabilities are understood, they can be protected against. There is no doubt that hacking will impact the way people view and use security cameras in the future, the only question is how?
In order to understand the way surveillance will be impacted by hacking, it is important to understand the vulnerabilities of surveillance cameras. Surveillance cameras have amazing benefits, and this is the reason why homeowners and business owners love to use them so much. It doesn’t matter whether these are professionally installed cameras or if they are DIY surveillance cameras. They allow people to keep their investments and belongings more secure. However, the fact that they are useful does not mean that they are impervious or perfect.
Surveillance cameras can actually be quite vulnerable to hacking, and criminals sometimes look to take advantage of these flaws. In order to allow for playback and storage, many surveillance cameras make use of DVR systems. In most cases, users will have to enable port forwarding on their DVR’s in order to be able to view the real-time footage. However, in order for port forwarding to work there needs to be an open point of access in a user's firewall, which puts them in an extremely vulnerable position. If there is a weak point in your network security, it will be much easier for hackers to potentially access your camera.
Also, several security cameras are found to be vulnerable due to remote monitoring. In order for remote monitoring to occur, there has to be real-time streaming and an active Internet connection. Real-time streaming is usually governed by the rules of RTSP (real-time streaming protocol), but these protocols are not necessarily secure themselves. They are meant to govern the signals and data being transmitted between a user’s device and their surveillance equipment. However, because of insecure security protocols, hackers have the ability to manipulate these inbound signals and view people’s private security feeds.
Furthermore, surveillance cameras also face many security encryption challenges. There are a lot of factors that come into play when video footage is being accessed in real-time. It is hard to encrypt this data as well as ensure that it is still being received in pristine condition. As with many other security measures and devices, the actual security is normally sacrificed for the aesthetic. This is what can give hackers the necessary space they need to exploit security.
There are many solutions that users can take advantage of to make sure that their surveillance cameras are not a liability moving forward. If these issues are not rectified, they will greatly hinder the future of surveillance cameras. I personally believe that hacking could prove to be advantageous to the security camera industry because it will force the industry to make the necessary changes required to thwart hackers.
Here are some possible solutions that could be explored:
- Users should try their best not to connect an unprotected server to the internet, especially if their surveillance cameras are making use of this server. In addition to this, users should try to limit the manner in which they use port forwarding. If it is completely necessary for you to have remote access to your surveillance system, then make sure that your network is utilizing a secure firewall. If users can effectively restrict the amount of inbound data transfers that they use, they will make their surveillance cameras less vulnerable. In lieu of this, they could instead use outbound connections that will not require any alterations to their firewall.
- It is important to invest time in developing secure end-to-end encryption techniques that will help keep surveillance footage and private data secure. One of the many problems that plague surveillance is the lack of adequate encryption. Practicing the use of end-to-end encryption will help mitigate this. User’s can also practice better password management in order to keep their cameras secure. This can be done using a public network or a physical private network. If you are using a public network, make sure that each of your surveillance cameras has a unique and strong password. However, if you are using a physical private network, having one strong password to cover all your surveillance cameras should do the trick.
- Users should also pay attention to the necessary software patches and updates that will help rectify any flaws that crop over time. Many manufacturers roll out patches that help improve the
operation and security of their cameras, and users have to make sure that they take advantage of this. Nothing makes hackers more brazen than knowing that users are not using the security patches that manufacturers have made available. In most cases, users are oblivious to the fact that their security might even be breached, so it is important to have these firmware updates in place to combat this.
- In addition to the solutions mentioned above, users can also begin to rely on cloud surveillance providers. These surveillance providers host and monitor video footage on secure cloud servers and these have much more stringent security protocols than traditional surveillance is accustomed to. Many of these cloud surveillance providers have an intimate understanding of the threat that hacking poses to surveillance. As such, they have invested a majority of their resources in bolstering the security of their networks. Furthermore, since surveillance is being hosted on cloud servers rather than being managed internally, it helps limit the amount of physical access that a hacker has to your surveillance network. Remote surveillance systems are proving to be much more secure, and it won’t be long before they become the norm.
- Another solution that users can take advantage of is surveillance cameras and networks, which utilize redundancy protocols to help limit unauthorized access. Redundancies are put in place to increase the reliability of the security system. They are meant to act as additional safeguards against anyone who attempts to gain unauthorized access to your surveillance camera. This security feature is being implemented in several different surveillance models looking to combat security issues head on.
- The use of virtual private networks can also come in handy for users who are concerned about the safety and integrity of their surveillance cameras. VPN’s give users the ability to place more restrictions on devices that might attempt to gain access to their networks. If users choose to go this route, they will have to make sure that they are constantly monitoring the state of their network in order to maintain its security. Although this might sound like a good deal of work, it also gives users the opportunity to log the activity on their network. This process will help them flag any unnatural occurrences, and it will also help them head off hackers before any damage can be done to their surveillance network.
These potential future issues with surveillance cameras are nothing to be alarmed by. Like any security device, they will change with the times. However, users have to remain vigilant and aware so that hackers do not take advantage of them. Hacking will be a major driving force in the way surveillance pans out in the years to come, and we can only hope that the security camera industry remains as stringent as it is today.
Ralph Goodman is a professional writer and the resident expert on locks and security over at the Lock Blog. The Lock Blog is a great resource to learn about keys, locks and safety. They offer tips, advice and how-to’s for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.