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The NW blog

Securing your small business IP camera network

June 26th, 2018 by Amy Watkins

Small business with padlock

If you’re looking to protect your small business by installing IP cameras, take a look at the steps below for ways to make your installation more secure. This blog covers the system set up aspect of your camera network security.

Date and time setup

Setting the right date and time at system set up ensures that your recordings show the correct time information. This makes it much easier to find and review incidents, rather than having to watch hours of footage. If you’re using a video management systems (VMS), it’s important that all parts of the system are in time sync at all times otherwise components can be prevented from functioning correctly.

The correct date and time are also crucial if the police want to rely on your footage after an incident.

Encrypted or digitally signed recordings

If you are recording locally to your camera through an SD card or to another device on your network, encrypting the feed helps to reduce the likelihood of it being accessed by those without authorisation.

Some VMS will give you the option of either encrypting or digitally signing the recordings it makes. Digital signing means you can easily verify the integrity of the recordings and is highly recommended as a minimum. Full encryption means that without encryption keys and/or passwords no footage can be accessed at all. However, encryption comes with a slight penalty in processing, so should be catered for in larger systems.

Audio – do you need it?

Many cameras now come with the ability to listen as well as watch a scene, but should you?

“The use of audio recording, particularly where it is continuous, will, in most situations, be considered more privacy intrusive than purely visual recording. Its use will therefore require much greater justification.”

Information Commissioners Office

If you don’t need to use an audio feed on your camera then it can be disabled – check your camera manual for details on how to do this or if you’re recording with a VMS, you can usually disable audio recording through the interface. One camera manufacturer, Mobotix, even allows you to ‘burn out’ the microphone with a click of a button on their cameras to prevent its use entirely.

User profiles

It is best practice to create different accounts with differing access – an administrator account to deal with the system set up and operator account(s) for the day to day monitoring of your feeds and responding to alerts. The operator accounts should have less rights and all accounts other than admins should have access only to those cameras and functions that are deemed necessary.

If you’re the only person who accesses your security feeds then it can feel excessive creating two accounts, however if you regularly use your administrator access and your machine is compromised, then the perpetrator could do more damage with the higher access of this account.

If you use a VMS, it is common for cameras to be integrated using the root or master password details, but this is not good practice since a compromised system also compromises the cameras. Create a low-privilege (non-admin) account on each camera for the VMS to use and which has access to the live stream and other necessary functions.

Create strong passwords

Some cameras and NVRs are supplied with default passwords, it’s vital that you change these as there have been many of examples of CCTV feeds being accessed via the default login details. Make sure you use a strong password; the NCSC advises using three random words connected together like ‘pelicantransitmarble’ which are easy for you to remember.

Product updates

Most manufacturers regularly check their cameras and software for vulnerabilities and offer updates, so regularly installing patching software and firmware should be a priority. If you can, register to get alerts when firmware is updated, alternatively it’s worth setting a regular reminder to check.

Here are links to the support pages for the brands we stock:

Summary

In this blog we have covered only a small number of the steps you can take to secure your system. There are many more including switch setups, VLANs, server credentials and setups, remote access etc. For small businesses though, the best practice steps above will take you a long way towards having a really secure system.

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