According to research firm HIS Markit, it is estimated that around one third of the 62 million cameras installed in North America are network surveillance cameras. The firm further posits that majority of new security devices manufactured and sold these days are IP-based, including access control readers, panels, door locks, and even fire detectors.
The IP-based devices are popular because they do bring significant benefits compared to legacy hardware. However, they do have a downside – they are also vulnerable to an increasing number of threats.
Being Internet-capable gives malicious individuals a vector for attack, as opposed to traditional devices that are inaccessible except for people who are on-site. The Wall street Journal and some mainstream news outlets have caught wind of massive DDoS attacks that strangely use hijacked cameras and recorders as part of botnets, and there are also cases of hackers taking control of internet-capable nanny cams and using it to spy on people’s private lives.
These breaches serve as a wake up call to the industry, and should never be taken for granted. If you or your internal staff are determined to secure your video surveillance system against security breaches, here are some vulnerabilities that you should watch out for:
Most IP-based security systems have vulnerabilities that stem not from mistakes, but are inherent in the structure of the systems. These include:
- Physical Exposure of Access Ports – installation of these devices should be done with awareness that they need to be positioned in such a way that physical network ports are inaccessible or would require effort to access. These prevent intruders or criminals from simply walking up to a camera and accessing it by plugging their laptop or another device that can siphon sensitive data from an organization.
- Lack of Coordination Between Departments – some issues occur when the physical security and IT departments are working in silos. Both departments should be coordinating closely in order to ensure that the organization’s network security policies are airtight, and that both hardware and software are kept up to date on patches or upgrades that address vulnerabilities.
- Device Vulnerabilities – sometimes these devices have vulnerabilities that are only discovered after the product has gone to market, and has been installed by consumers. Make sure you pick products from manufacturers that address these vulnerabilities, instead of those that offer no aftermarket support.
Using Automation to Reduce Risk
Automation has a number of benefits, chief among which is that it reduces the risk attributed to human error. Additionally, automation can reduce the required workload and knowledge needed to implement best practices for keeping systems protected from threats.
On the other hand, security managers need optimal access to the ecosystem, both in terms of physical and software. Simply monitoring the feeds is not enough, as there is a need to monitor the hardware itself, right down to the source cameras. This helps prevent security lapses stemming from damaged cameras or incorrect settings.
Automation tools can be used on the front end in order to implement best practices, such as deploying a protected VLAN for the system, maintaining the login credentials of the camera, and restricting the switch ports to accepting only the MAC addresses of the cameras, so that unauthorized rogue devices cannot access the network even if plugged through an exposed Ethernet port.
Automated Cyber Protection
Automated cyber protections can also be used to monitor and log activities in the network, which allows security personnel to detect suspicious activity and respond accordingly. These include:
- Disruption in the cables – whether it’s a disconnection or a change in the length
- Rogue devices – when a new or unauthorized device is connected to the network
- Data flow – if the data transmission is being intercepted or if the flow changes direction
- Anomalous bandwidth consumption – if the bandwidth consumed by the security system has suddenly increased, probably as a result of someone accessing the network or someone trying to get in
Some automation tools can automatically implement security measures when abnormal behavior is detected, such as disabling a device or blocking access to specific ports, but even the ones that only generate alerts will still be useful when it comes to preventing security breaches.
It is imperative for security staff to keep their video surveillance system maintained and monitored, as one never knows when incidents will occur. You do not want to be caught unaware when a potentially devastating incident has occurred while the video surveillance equipment is not working. It is not only the equipment itself, there is also a need to ensure that the employees and staff are fully trained or at least made aware of security best practices, since the most robust of surveillance equipment can still be exploited if the weak link is an absent-minded or easily-fooled security staff.
For more information, visit our page on CCTV security cameras in Waterbury CT or contact for consultation.