Hacking 101: Why Video Surveillance Should be Left to the Pros
When selling video surveillance systems to would-be DIYs, remind customers it's not just physical security to consider, but also data security, given all the cybersecurity hacks out there, especially through IP cameras.
Over the last year there have been several high-profile hacking events, including a DDOS attack on DYN which shut down major websites across the East Coast, and the much more recent Equifax breach. Hackers are consistently working to take advantage of weaknesses, and security systems are a top target on their list. One of the more common devices in these systems is the IP camera – it’s incredibly common, and many are inexpensive and poorly maintained.
Yet these products can be so simple and inexpensive for DIYs to install themselves, why would they need a pro for the job? Consider that getting the cameras and recorders up and running is the easy part. Maintaining these products and services over time is actually the hard part.
Manufacturers forget to mention this, even with a small asterisk, when they tell you, "It's so easy your grandmother can do it.
Recently, several surveillance manufacturers, including some really big ones, have announced known exploits on their systems that have comprised not only home security by the Internet in general. (See the running list at CVE, Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures.)
Breaches through cameras and other IoT devices remain a constant and ever-changing threat. A pro should make sure the products are connected over a secure network, administered properly and updated constantly to ward off the latest Internet security threats.
In selling surveillance -- even DIY products -- remind clients that a security system is just like any piece of software that needs to be maintained and updated. New firmware is available on a regular basis to fix security threats, as well as address known issues and add new features (same is true for most connected devices).
Security systems should always be running on the latest available firmware, which requires them to be updated frequently. When given the option, do consumers press the "upgrade now" button or, like many of us, do they cancel and put it off to a later date?
As for home-technology pros, updates can consume quite a bit of time if done manually. To update the firmware of a handful of cameras and a recorder might take an hour. But multiply that across 25 sites and you are talking about significant time – and cost.
Thankfully, there are remote management systems that can ease this burden – simplifying the process and greatly reducing the time it takes to keep your customers’ security systems up to date. This includes instant notifications when new firmware is released, the ability to update remotely, and more.
Can a consumer do that by themselves? Will they?
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at email@example.com
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