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Troubleshooting Security and Privacy Issues in Video Surveillance

Though video surveillance plays a significant role as one of the most cost-effective ways to safeguard your properties and discourage residential burglars, chattering still occurs when it comes to security and privacy issues. Today, we’re gonna focus on how to address the privacy and security concerns in the video surveillance system.

Security Issues Concerning Security Cameras

The vulnerability of video surveillance to cyber-attacks is nothing new. The flourishing of security cameras also comes along with the increasing cases of hacker attaches, causing substantial losses and financial damages to both enterprises and end-users. Approximately estimated, a hacker attack is reported every 39 seconds with 49% cyber-attacks targeted at small-to-medium-sized businesses. IP cameras are internet-connected devices that depend on the wireless network for data communication and live streaming, which opens up great opportunities for potential hacking. According to the statistics, 65% of the users have never changed their passwords to the camera since day one, so skilled hackers could break into the surveillance system in minutes. Since the majority of the cameras are poorly secured, unauthorized outsiders can get easy access to the footage without any more ado. But such problems can be easily resolved with some fairly simple measures against cyber-attacks.

1.Change the default password

Most IP cameras have good security practices these days. However, one part the manufacturers can’t do for you is the password. Like any other electric product, the default password is identical. The hacker needs two things to access the IP camera – the camera’s ID and the password. If you never change the password, it makes hacking become easier. They will always try the default password first. Use a strong password is the most simple method to enhance the security of your IP camera systems.

If you have both the IP camera and network video recorder in the system, Remember to add the new password to all the IP cameras as well as the recorder. Some people may forget to add the new password to the IP cameras. Each IP camera works standalone with a static IP address. Unlike the analog CCTV camera system, only the network video recorder will be attached to the network. Even you take off the network video recorder, you still be able to access the camera and receive live feeds through PC software if the cameras are with a network switch.

Don’t you need to change the password regularly? Unless you have been sharing the system, It is unnecessary to update the password constantly. The password is only required once while access the IP camera system through the app or PC software. However, it is very important to mark down the password you add to the cameras and NVR. You will be asked for the password in some situations such as watching the camera system on new devices, change the camera’s setting. If you can’t recall the password, you will be locked out of the system. Taking off the small battery will not erase the password, you need professional support from the manufacturer by using the tools with a unique code to unlock the system.

2. Updating the camera’s firmware

Actually Updating the firmware may not always improve the security of the camera. Most of the case, the updating is aimed at optimizing the performance of the IP camera system. You should consult the manufacturer before you process the firmware upload. It is important to keep the power up until the system upgrade is completed. If the power is disconnected during the upgrade, you may just brick the whole system and the equipment will need to be sent back to the factory to repair.

Both IP cameras and network video recorder (NVR) have their own firmware, and the firmware is different between the IP camera and the NVRs. While you try to upload the firmware for all your equipments, you may need to use PC or Mac software to connect all the IP devices and send the matched firmware to each of the devices.

3. Checking the log

If your IP camera system provides you the interface to access the log, you can check the log and cross-reference to your access time constantly. Usually, the IP camera will log the different events automatically and keep them for several months. The log is being saved to the ROM instead of the hard drive. Even there is no hard drive, you will can find the log.

4. Using the blacklist of the camera

Some of the IP camera systems support IP filters. If there is any suspicious IP address you discovered from the router, you can add these IP addresses to the blacklist. It is difficult to use the white list, because you may access the cameras system from different locations with different IP addresses. The blacklist can remove suspicious access to the IP camera system. If your camera system relies on cloud storage, you should double-check with the provider. Make sure those IP addresses you plan to ban don’t relate to the cloud service, otherwise, the cloud storage or P2P connection may not work.

5. Disable the remote viewing

If there is no way to ease the security concern of your camera system, you can simply just keep the camera within the local network. This also means you will be unable to view the camera remotely as long as it is acceptable. The IP camera systems need to know the IP address of your router to access the internet. You can make up a fake IP address of the router and manually add it to your IP camera system. While the IP camera doesn’t have the correct IP address of your router, it will be locked down to the local network. If your IP camera doesn’t provide the network setting, you still can go for the router and deny the network accessing to your IP camera system.

Privacy Concerns Raised by Video Surveillance

Although video surveillance is an awe-inspiring invention widely used in the observance and of personal/public properties and the deterrence of crimes, it also possesses an illegal aspect of privacy violation. Anyone that steps into the monitored zones will be recorded even if he/she doesn’t carry out any suspicious activities. Thereby, it’ll be considered a serious breach of personal privacy if you don’t inform the normal passers-by of the presence of the security cameras. When speaking of legality, there are universal laws governing the applications of surveillance cameras, and every state has its own regulations respectively. As legally documented, the camera shouldn’t be placed in areas that are considered private, such as locker rooms and bathrooms. Moreover, it’s also illegal to point your camera at others’ premises (for example, your neighbor’s house or backyard). Privacy violations caused by improper placements may eventually land you in court. But when properly used, it is still a strong deterrent to avert potential crimes and protect your assets.

How to tackle privacy issues by changing the shooting angle

Changing the shooting angle could avoid invading the properties of your neighbor. However, the camera needs to maintain a proper shooting angle to capture the detail of a person of interest. Some of the IP cameras support privacy mark which allows you to create the block to mark the sensitivity area. Let’s take IP cameras from Fastcabling for example.

The privacy mark should be configured through the camera but not the network video recorder. The network video recorder will save whatever live feed transmitted from the IP camera on the hard drive disk. Firstly, you will need to install the PC software or Mac software to get full access to the IP cameras. Once you log into the camera you need to set the privacy, find the overlay setting. You should see the region mask setting. Mark the checkbox to enable the privacy mark. Next, click the + button, you will see one block appear on the live feed. Now use the mouse to move the block to the area you would like to mask. You can even pull the border of the rectangle to enlarge the block. Click the + again to add new black until you have masked all the sensitivity areas. You will no longer see the mask block in the live video as well as the record files. As the privacy mark is being added to the video at the camera, the recording area is being set properly before the live feed is saved to the hard drive.

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